All games scheduled for Friday, November 23
Defense may win championships, but goals don’t hurt either. That’s been Penn State’s formula for success in recent times, and it has continued during another lengthy postseason run. Boasting the nation’s top scoring offense, averaging three goals per game.
But the Blue Devils should be able to match Duke’s scoring prowess, as they are right behind the Nittany Lions in the scoring department, ranked second in the country with an average of 2.95 goals a game. Whichever defense can slow the other down will book that coveted College Cup trip.
Labeling the Irish as underdogs is a dangerous proposition here, as they’ve shown a lot of spunk under head coach Randy Waldrum to make it this far in the tournament. Knocking off a high-powered and dangerous Florida State team is no small task, but there are no easy games in the tournament. The Seminoles are looking for a second straight College Cup appearance with a win.
The Seminoles have advanced this far on the strength of an air-tight defense, keeping 16 clean sheets so far this season, including in two of the three tournament games so far.
Few teams have been able to slow down the Cougars this year, one of only a few teams in Division 1 to lose just one game this year. They managed that by winning several tight games, including five games 1-0, and grinding out the result on penalty kicks in the previous round against Marquette.
Now, BYU stands in the way of North Carolina and a spot in the College Cup, which would be the Tar Heels’ first appearance since 2009, when they won the national championship. It’s been an odd season full of ups and downs for what is an extremely talent-laden UNC roster. Going on the road and finding a way past BYU is the big challenge, and it won’t be easy – the Cougars are 13-0-2 at home this year.
The rematch of an earlier season Pac-12 clash – won by the Cardinal – this meeting in Palo Alto presents another chance for the Bruins to get one over their division rivals at just the right time.
Experience favors Stanford here, as the Cardinal would advance to a fifth straight College Cup appearance with the win. UCLA was last in the final four in 2009, and head coach B.J. Snow is certain to be scheming and dreaming up ways to come out with a win this time around. Statistically, his team is fourth best in the nation defensively, with 14 shutouts thus far, and they’ve yet to concede in the NCAA tournament.
The Cardinal have outscored opponents 57-13 so far this year, and it’s going to take a massive effort at both ends of the field for UCLA to snap out of the funk against their conference rivals. Stanford has won six straight games against the Bruins, including this year’s 2-1 win in October.
Key Players: F Courtney Verloo, F Choma Ubogagu (Stanford); MF Sarah Killion, F Zakiya Bywaters