The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson for November 18, 2019

The annual NCAA edition: What, and who to watch. But basically you should watch Stanford and North Carolina. Plus links and the rest

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First off, thank you for indulging me with our Trading Places stunt last week. Like many of you, I enjoy watching women’s sports across the spectrum, from soccer to basketball to volleyball to hockey and everything in between. So it’s fun for me to color outside the lines every once and a while.

And because of that, I’m a week late with my look at the NCAA tournament. The first round is already in the books. But better late than never.

Your top seeds are already through. North Carolina, Stanford, Florida State and Virginia all won their first-round matches. No surprises there. The biggest upset of the weekend was Central Connecticut State’s 1-0 upset of fourth-seeded Rutgers.

Let’s take a look at each of the top seeds:

STANFORD: HOLY FORKING SHIRTBALLS! The No. 1 Cardinal set an NCAA postseason record with a 15-0 blanking of Prairie View A&M on Friday night. And I thought the USWNT’s 13-0 rout of Thailand was something. Catarina Macario had four goals and five assists for a Stanford-record 13 points. Sophia Smith and Bianca Caetano each had hat tricks for the Cardinal. Stanford is ranked No. 1 and is 19-1-0 this season. The lone loss was to Pepperdine on the road. A couple of impressive facts: Stanford won its fifth Pac-12 championship by going undefeated in league play _ and they outscored conference opponents 41-4. The Cardinal led the NCAA after the regular season with 72 goals 76 assists and 220 points. Stanford has been to the tournament for 22 straight seasons.

NORTH CAROLINA: The Tar Heels downed the Belmont Bruins 5-0 in the opening round, paced by Alessia Russo’s two goals. North Carolina is 20-1-1 so far this season. Carolina’s numbers are just so impressive. The Tar Heels have won 22 ACC titles. They’ve now played in ALL 38 of the NCAA Tournaments, and they’ve WON 21 of them. They’ve been runners up four times. Right here I’m going to just offhandedly say that their coach is ANSON DORRANCE. Russo, a junior, has a career high 11 goals this season, rebounding from a broken leg last season. Her goal in OT gave Carolina the 2-1 win over Virginia to win the ACC Tournament.

Speaking of VIRGINIA: Virginia downed Radford 3-0 in the opening round. The Cavaliers are third in the rankings behind Stanford and North Carolina. They’re 17-1-3, with the lone loss coming in overtime to the Tar Heels in the ACC title game. They were undefeated in 19 straight going into the regular-season finale. Virginia has made 26 straight trips to the NCAA Tournament, second only to North Carolina, and 32 overall. The Cavaliers are led by Meghan McCool and Diana Ordonez with 14 goals apiece, while Alexa Spaanstra has 12 assists.

FLORIDA STATE: The defending national champions opened the tournament with a 2-0 victory over South Alabama. Kirsten McFarland scored both goals for the Seminoles. The team is making its 19 NCAA Tournament appearance. In addition to the College Cup victory last season, the team also won in 2014. It is the eighth time they’ve received a No. 1 seed. Deyna Castellanos has 11 goals this season and 47 for her stellar career. It will be interesting to see where she winds up next season. Coach Mark Kirkorian was mentioned early on as a possible candidate to replace Jill Ellis.

This year’s tournament should be fun. If you see below, I’m thinking BYU might make some noise.

That said, just two more things to open the week:

Not entirely believing the USL women’s league thing. I was talking to an owner the other day who is NOT Merritt Paulson, and that person just laughed. So take that as you will.

Final note, I’m not going to link it, and I’m sure you all have heard about the blog post that went up by a certain NWSL defender, who also shall remain unnamed. Let’s not give it any clicks. Y’all know what I’m talking about.

So I’m just gonna repeat myself:

She made a choice. She was either a teammate, or not. She is not a victim.

On to the links.

This Week in Women’s Soccer

Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me!

Please read this: Gloria Steinem chats with Megan Rapinoe. From the excellent Alex Coffey, who covers the Okaland A’s for The Athletic.

Here’s the Equalizer’s look at the NCAA Tournament.

Spain’s national team went on strike over pay. Those talks have since reopened, according to the BBC this morning.

I’m sure I’m not the only one sad that Dawn Scott is leaving for England. I’ll be the players are, too. She was/is universally liked.

Caitlin Murray with a story about what the USWNT can learn from Australia. And Caitlin with the story NWSL compensation from last week.

Grant Wahl’s USL story for SI is here.

My The IX colleague Howard Megdal on the news that broke this morning that Sky Blue will play games at Red Bull Arena.

AP’s own Rob Harris was on hand to see Arsenal win before a record Women’s Super League crowd.

It goes without saying, but Lindsay Gibbs’ Power Plays is a must-subscribe. You can read the latest edition here. It’s good.

Beau Dure compares and contrasts the Equal Pay deals and what they mean to the USWNT’s fight.

Tweet of the week

This is a bummer.

Five at The IX: BYU Coach Jennifer Rockwood

OK y’all, most of you know about BYU, but for those of you who don’t, the Cougars went undefeated this season. They’re led by senior Elise Flake, who has 19 goals this season, and they play under Jennifer Rockwood, who is in her 25th season. BYU has made the NCAA Tournament in 22 of its 25 seasons as a program. Pay attention to this team, my guess is that they’ll be there at the end.

Rockwood’s comments came following the NCAA selection show. The Cougars have since defeated Boise State. But there’s some good stuff her about the streak, and the team’s mindset going into what could be a special postseason.

Question: No. 2 seed is that about where you guys figured, and what you kind of hoped for?

Rockwood: I mean we were thinking we’d probably, we had an opportunity for a two or three seed. Obviously, I’m excited to see the potential to play some home games, but you know you gotta make sure you take care of the first one, that’s the only one that matters but I’m excited about the draw sometimes you just never know what you’re going to see when you watch the show and I think it’s a great job for us really excited about it.

Question: You’ve only been a higher seat once, how does this year’s team compared to that one seed in 2012?

Rockwood: The one seed in 2012 is obviously a fantastic team we’ve only lost one game all year and played a very competitive schedule, we had a really strong defense. I would say this team has scored a lot more goals than our 2012 team with a very similar, strength and defensive unit. So I think this team, you know, just kind of got both things going for them. We have a great attack and a great defense. The girls work hard on both sides of the ball. Boise State has had a fantastic year, they’ve got 18 wins, you know, and so I’m sure they’re excited to get into the tournament after winning their conference championship. So we’ll have our hands full but just really excited to play again on South Field.

Question: You played a lot of tournament games in your career here, and coached a lot of tournament games. What’s special about playing at home in a playoff format that that maybe you don’t necessarily get when going on the road?

Rockwood: I just think that playing at home, especially for us, as it is a huge advantage we play very well here in front of our home crowd and on South Field. There’s just more excitement. You know, we’ve played, and proven to play well on the road, especially this year, but there’s nothing like playing at home and I think that’s what everybody’s always shooting for in the NCAAs, is for opportunities to play home games and that’s a big advantage. So hopefully you know we can go in and do what we do, take one game at a time and get some good results in this first matchup and then we’ll go from there.

Question: Is there anything about last year’s TCU opener that will help you. This year, this time around.

Rockwood: It’s just a good reminder of the physicality that we saw from TCU. We hadn’t had that physical a game during conference play. But this year we have ,we’ve had some really physical matches in conference play so I think that’s helped. But that was one thing that I think that caught us off guard a little bit and I think just again, playing at home, and the confidence the girls feel here on South Field.

Question: What does it mean to you to lead the nation in attendance and now four or five seasons?

Rockwood: We feel very fortunate to play in a place that is so well supported, both home and on the road, Cougar Nation shows up and supports us on the road, but the fan base here is fantastic. We’ve got a great marketing group that helps us get the word out and I’m sure the word is going to go out real quick here now, and hopefully we’ll play in front of a big crowd. Weather’s not supposed to be too bad you never know this time of year but it looks to be, you know, favorable for us. And so yeah, let’s go.

Question: what’s the way that you maintain consistent play with this team, talk about a mindset.

Rockwood: You don’t want to get too high or too low, it’s similar to like senior night. It’s obviously a very emotional night and a celebration, but you know we did something before and we didn’t approach the game any differently, even though you know it, those emotions and those pressures are still there we just kind of prepare like we did every game, and obviously the girls showed up and played extremely well for our last regular season game. It’s be the same I mean the emotions and the pressure and the excitement is all going to be there but we’re just going to prepare as we have and we’ll take a look at Boise State and find out what they do but most of the focus will be on what we do and how we can continue to get better.

Question: The streak almost never got talked about, but you did get to the end of the season. without a single loss for the first time in your career. Can you speak to just what it took to actually get there with a zero.

Rockwood: Similar to the rankings and the streak, we don’t really address those things other than just making sure that the girls appreciate what they’ve accomplished. So mid season, we did kind of take a minute to say `Hey look at what you’ve done, look where you are, look where you’re ranked, look what you’ve worked for. Appreciate it. And, and just understand how much you’ve accomplished, because those kind of accomplishments build confidence moving forward.’ You know as far as the undefeated thing it was something we just we didn’t talk about. We were so invested in just trying to get three points for each conference game Our main goal was to win the conference championship and that’s happened, and now our main goal will be to win on Friday night.

Question: Not getting too high or too low describes a lot of girls on your team but in particular, it really describes Elise flake. Has that been kind of key to her breakout senior season is just the way she stays so even keeled?

Rockwood: Yeah i think that definitely helps. You know emotions can sometimes bring out the best but they can also drag you down, and so as long as you can maintain consistent emotions, that’s what the girls, and Elise and Kayla and some of those girls have really been able to build on — is not to get too excited or amped up before a game, and then not to get too down if things don’t go as well as planned. So we’ve been able to come back from being down, from being scored on , from mistakes or things not going away. The girls have just been able to find a way to get results, and to continue to improve with each game.

Rockwood: When you’re preparing for a new opponent. How do you balance between not changing anything you would do because you’re focused on yourself, and then looking at what the other team does, maybe we need to do something different to counteract that?

Coaches: I think as coaches, you know, especially, Brett and Steve, we spent a lot of time watching our opponents. And again, we want to be familiar with what they’ve done, they’ve had a very successful 18 games that’s, that’s a lot a lot of wins for anybody. Obviously they’ve been successful they’ve got to be feeling pretty confident. But, you know, we’ll look and see who’s scoring goals for them kind of what formation they play, but most likely we’re not going to change too much of what we do. We just want to see where the opportunities will be for us to gain an advantage.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Stephanie Livaudais,
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal High Post Hoops
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @Elindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by Annie Peterson