The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, May 17, 2021
College Cup Edition! The final is tonight! (Or this afternoon if you are me) — Plus links and postgame with Jess Fishlock and Lu Barnes
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Lots of news hit my inbox this morning!
Rose Lavelle is joining the Reign after all.
And Sam Mewis is heading back to the Courage.
Tonight is the women’s College Cup title game between Santa Clara and Florida State.
Can the upstart Broncos, the No. 11 seed who played just seven matches in the regular season, down the top-ranked Seminoles?
I just love an underdog story.
Santa Clara was making its first trip to the tournament since 2004. The Broncos won the College Cup title in 2001 with a 1-0 victory over North Carolina. (Oh hey, Aly Wagner won outstanding offensive player!)
This year they advanced on a 3-1 victory over the second-seeded Tall Heels. Santa Clara’s Izzy D’Aquila scored in the 20th minute — first goal the Tar Heels had conceded since the fall, a stretch of 694 minutes. Kelsey Turnbow and Skylar Smith also scored for the Broncos.
“The adversity that we’ve overcome and especially in Santa Clara County, is absolutely incredible. What I can say about our team is that we are resilient and we fought so hard to get to this position, and we’ve gotten better every single game during this tournament. So we’re peaking at the right time and we’re performing very well. We’re confident and we believe in one another so much, and I think that contributes to the performance on the field.” — Kelsey Turnbow.
Brianna Pinto, a MAC Hermann finalist, scored the lone goal for North Carolina. Afterward, Pinto was in tears over the end of her final season.
I asked her afterward why she decided to stay at North Carolina, and when she might join Gotham FC.
“My decision to stay was because I wanted one last chance to compete for a national championship. We were close, but it didn’t happen. In terms of Gotham, I’m not there yet. I was focused on devoting all my energy to Carolina soccer because it’s what I love with all my passion and all my heart. But I guess in the coming weeks I’ll sort out what’s next for me in terms of my move to Gotham FC.” — Brianna Pinto.
Likewise, Turnbow was drafted by the Chicago Red Stars, but she won’t join the team until 2022 while she completes her master’s degree.
Florida State, which won national titles in 2014 and 2018, advanced on a penalty shootout following a scoreless draw with Virginia in the semis. True Freshman goalkeeper Cristina Roque denied two Virginia penalty kicks.
Florida State coach Mark Krikorian will be looking for actual goals in the championship game.
“I’m not exactly sure why it was, but I didn’t think that we started the game with the mentality that we normally do. I need to look in the mirror and figure that out, certainly that responsibility lies with me. I can assure you that come Monday we’ll be a little more in play from the start than we were today” — Florida State coach Mark Krikorian.
Other than that, we started the NWSL regular season this weekend. It wasn’t exactly a goal fest on Saturday — there were scoreless draws in the game between Racing Louisville and Kansas City, and then in the late match between the Reign and North Carolina.
I jumped on to the postgame with Jess Fishlock and Lu Barnes, which you can read a bit about below.
Barnes was honored for her 150th game in the NWSL before the match. Only Barnes and Christine Nairn have reached the milestone.
The Thorns made up for any lack of goals on Saturday with a 5-0 victory over the Red Stars on Sunday.
Sad to say I wasn’t able to go to the game because of the final regular-season game for the Portland Trail Blazers. But next Sunday is a derby match with the Reign, so hopefully my schedule will allow it. No doubt I’ll be writing about it here.
Oh, and one last thing before we go to the links: Thorns coach Mark Parsons isn’t commenting on a move to the Netherlands, but suggested it wasn’t ‘finalized.’ Here’s the quote: “Nothing is finalized in regards to my future for 2022, and until that changes I’m not going to be willing to talk about it.”
(Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. ESPECIALLY NOW, as newsrooms are forced to make difficult choices. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me! firstname.lastname@example.org.
Speaking of Nairn, The Athletic’s Matt Pentz spoke to her about this season.
Also for The Athletic, Stephanie Yang makes her predictions for the season.
One more from The Athletic, a wonderful profile of Sam Kerr from the tireless Katie Whyatt.
I did an overview of the season here for The AP. Yes, I’m keeping Sacramento out of it, for now.
John Molinaro’s NWSL preview for Sportsnet in Canada.
AP’s story on Barcelona’s victory over Chelsea in the WCL final.
Loved this story from The Equalizer’s Jeff Kassouf about Fran Kirby.
Casey Stoney has no regrets about stepping down, from Goal.com.
Sandra Herrera looks at the return of Mewis and Lavelle for CBS Sports.
The Christian Science Monitor did an interesting story on women’s soccer in England.
The Guardian’s Louise Taylor looked at the infusion of money into women’s soccer in Europe.
Chelsea’s Emma Hayes says women’s football is ‘finally in the consciousness’
Recommendation of the week: The incomparable Michale Lewis writes for U.S. Soccer’s website on Betty Ellis, the first woman to officiate a men’s match.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
Five at The IX: Lu Barnes and Jess Fishlock
We spoke to Lu Barnes and Jess Fishlock following the scoreless draw with the Courage to open the season. Here are a few excerpts:
Question: Lauren, this is your 150th game in a Reign uniform. Can you talk a little bit about the experience out there and the ceremony?
Barnes: I actually was surprised, I had no idea my brother-in-law was here, this one (nodding to Fishlock) organized everything. I honestly was so surprised my heart kind of stopped when I walked over and I saw them come out. So that was really special. To be honest, every time I put this jersey on, there’s something special about it. Me and Jess have built this club for the last nine years, so we take a lot of pride in what we do and, yeah, I just love it. A lot of what goes into it, is what we believe in as players and staff and coaches. Just happy to be out there and get the shutout, we didn’t get to the points but we put together good performance.
Question: (BTW, this was me) Since both of you guys are long timers in in the league. What is it like to be starting the ninth season in the NWSL, and did you guys imagine that the league was going to last this long?
Fishlock: I mean we sure hoped it would, Annie. I think when we first came in, there was hope that this league would be a little bit different than previous leagues, and it was done with caution and with practicality and with a long term plan. And I think we can all see that that was a very good decision and that we’ve been super super successful. And now we’ve got a league that is nine years later, which is great. And we can keep pushing the league now further and further forward, progress it, and keep keep getting the teams even better and better and the league even better and better, and you know that’s what we want, right? We want to do that.
Barnes: And it keeps growing, right? We’ve got two more teams coming in next year which is awesome. You see the investors coming in as well. We’re putting a lot of effort towards this group to continue to grow. I was in the WPS before that, and everyday was like, `Is it going to be here, or is it not? I don’t think we have that feeling at all.
Fishlock: I think we feel like this is stable, which is huge, and I think in truth, we’ve seen it from today, already, that this league is the most competitive in the entire world. Not just competitive, it is good competitive. Every team can beat any team, and that is why this league sets itself apart from any other league. It’s not just a two team situation, it is every single team can win on a given day, and that is why this league is built the right way, it is done the right way and it is only going to get better and better. Teams are coming in, players are coming in, the players that have now been developed. Again, it is better and better. This league is just going from strength to strength and it’s, it’s super cool being a part of it.”
Question: Holding North Carolina scoreless is never an easy task, so is it frustrating that you didn’t get a goal to put the game away? Or is it a marathon and not a sprint?
Fishlock: I actually think our performance today was great, from back to front. We talk about missed chances against North Carlona, of course. But right now the most important thing is that we’re creating those chances. We are a team that can score goals — super excited about that. Myself, I had a few opportunities today and I need to put one of them away, but, you know, I’m not gonna go home and lose sleep about that because the most important thing was that we are progressing in our performances, we’ve said that from the beginning of the Challenge Cup. This is, I believe, where our standards are right now, with regards to how we defend, how we work, how we talk to each other. Because if we keep creating chances as the games go on, we’re going to score two or three goals, every time. So this is our level now. All we do is get better and better.
Barnes: And this team is hungry. We want to do a bit more clinical on our boxing on both ends defending in offensively, so I think that’s something that we’ve been working on and like just said like we have a lot of goalscorers, a lot of optimistic player so I think it’s gonna be really fun.
Question: I wanted to know how much, if at all, did the last meeting with them, the 2019 semifinals, came into play?
Fishlock: I don’t even think we thought about it. To be honest, so much has happened since that game.
Barnes: It’s been very long.
Fishlock: It’s been long, two Challenge Cups. We just said in the huddle, Farid was like, ‘This is officially my first actual game. He’s been here for like two years like that’s how crazy it’s been. So yeah, that semifinal was not in our minds at all. We’re basically different clubs and different teams. We weren’t worried about that at all. We’re focused on us. What we want to do, how we want to play. And I think you saw that tonight, and that’s why we’re really proud of our start in the NWSL as OL Reign.
Barnes: What a game to start with, right? We want to play the best and North Carolina has proven that they have been the best for years now. So, you know, have that starting, set the standard high and now we just continue to grow from there.