The normal sports cliché is that it is not easy being the champs, but the #1 Stanford Cardinal (16-1-1) sure made it look simple over the weekend.
On Sunday night, Stanford took another step in its quest to repeat as NCAA Champions with a Pac-12 Conference Championship.
The Cardinal secured the conference crown with a 2-1 victory over #2 UCLA at Drake Stadium thanks to exceptional performances from goalkeeper Emily Oliver, forward Chioma Ubogagu, outside back Rachael Quon, and versatile playmaker Courtney Verloo.
Quon and Ubogagu notched the goals late in the contest to negate an opening strike from UCLA freshman Taylor Smith. The Bruins (15-1-2) dropped to second in the conference after suffering their first defeat of the season.
Arizona State (9-8-2) and Washington State (11-6-1) are tied for the fourth spot in the conference after both programs recorded six points over the weekend. The Sun Devils waited until the dying seconds to give their fans something to celebrate.
Freshman sensation Cali Farquharson scored her eighth goal of the year with 22 seconds left in the second overtime to help Arizona State defeat Colorado 2-1.
Bow Down to BYU
The last time #5 BYU (16-1-1) trailed in a game was September 13 against #53 Cal Poly. The Cougars would go on to win that game 5-1 and then win nine of the next 10 games as the Provo program soars up the rankings in the final weeks of the season.
The current West Coast Conference leaders have two games left in the regular season after wins over San Diego and Saint Mary’s (CA)(w) last week. The Cougars only need four points from the final two games to clinch the conference title and automatic postseason berth.
There are a number of stats that stand out from BYU’s campaign, but perhaps the most eye opening is the three goals conceded in the first half. Jennifer Rockwood’s group has very rarely been forced to play from behind in these games, which has allowed the high-output attack to flourish with limited pressure.
The Cougars close out the regular season on the road against Loyola Marymount on Thursday and #20 Pepperdine on Saturday.
Baylor Breaks Record
The #14 Baylor Bears (14-1-4) broke their program record for shutouts on Friday with a 2-0 win over TCU. Despite not losing a conference game all season, Baylor enters the Big 12 Championship as the second seed and kicks off action against Oklahoma State on Wednesday.
Denver Pioneers – America’s Team?
The #24 Denver Pioneers closed off the regular season with wins against Idaho and Seattle over the weekend. The six points secured a tie for the regular season title but the second place in the WAC Tournament for Colorado program, which is new to the conference this season.
Denver is feeling a bit of pressure though, as many bubble teams for the NCAA Tournament like Rutgers and Long Beach State will be rooting for the Pioneers to capture the WAC crown and only send one team from the conference to the Big Dance.
If Utah State holds serve at home this week in the tournament, two teams from the WAC would likely make it into the field of 64, which would knock out one bubble team.
This similar situation plays out in a couple of other conferences, but Denver is in a prime spot to make at least one team happy.