Conference play closing time nears
Also: Titans reach 8-0 for first time; Schrift good for hat trick
Where has the fall season gone? It seems like just yesterday we were gearing up for preseason camp with polls and previews, while student-athletes were surviving two-a-day sessions in 90-degree weather.
Here we are a little more than two months later, and the leaves are falling, Halloween is looming and Election Day is right around the corner. The end of October also signals the conclusion of regular season play for several sports and divisions, and a few conferences have even started championship tournament play.
Most notably, the Big East and Atlantic Coast Conference women’s soccer tournaments are underway and each have whittled down their brackets to four semifinalists a piece after a Sunday filled with quarterfinal action at the home fields of the higher seeds.
In the Big East, the top-two seeds in both the American and National Divisions advanced to Friday’s semifinals, which will be held in Storrs, Conn. No. 16 Marquette, the top seed in the American Division, exploded for a 4-1 victory against Connecticut, and moved on to the semifinals for the sixth time in program history and first time since 2010.
The Golden Eagles will meet Notre Dame, the No. 2 seed in the National Division. The Irish nipped Syracuse 1-0 with a goal by freshman forward Cari Roccaro. UND advanced to the Big East semifinals for the 16th time in 18 seasons. The Irish are unbeaten in 11 of their last 12 matches.
Georgetown – trying to beat the rain bands from Hurricane Sandy – scored early on a goal by forward Colleen Dinn, and held on for a 1-0 win against DePaul to advance to the conference semifinals for the second consecutive year. It was Dinn’s fourth game-winning goal of the season. The No. 14 Hoyas will face South Florida, which advanced from a double-overtime 0-0 tie against Louisville following penalty kicks.
With seven teams ranked in the NSCAA Division I Top 25, Sunday’s ACC Tournament games showcased several teams that will be playing in the NCAA tournament in a couple weeks. Top-seeded Florida State avenged a regular season loss to Boston College with a 4-0 drubbing of the Eagles to advance to the conference semifinals in Cary, N.C., on Friday. FSU suffered its first loss of the season to Boston College just 10 days ago.
No. 2-seed Maryland and No. 3-seed Wake Forest each survived 1-0 overtime battles with Miami and Duke, respectively, while No. 5 Virginia also edged No. 4 North Carolina 1-0. It was the second consecutive year the Tar Heels have lost in the ACC quarterfinals. The Cavaliers outshot the Tar Heels 11-4 – the fewest shots ever taken in a game by UNC in program history (since 1979).
• There will be yet another shift in the FCS rankings this week after top-ranked Eastern Washington went down. Southern Utah kicker Colton Cook nailed a 36-yard game-winning field goal with three seconds remaining in regulation to lift the Thunderbirds to a 30-27 upset against the No. 1 Eagles in FCS action on Saturday. It was the Eagles’ first loss in Big Sky Conference action, while the Thunderbirds evened their record at 3-3 in league play.
• No. 15 Indiana State extended its winning streak to five games – the Sycamores’ longest since 1995 – as they ran past South Dakota 45-14 on Saturday. The victory improved Indiana State to 5-1 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference for the first time, and propelled the Sycamores into first place in the league standings.
• Brown sophomore forward Ben Maurey continues to possess the winning touch. On Saturday, Maurey netted a game-winning goal for the third consecutive game as the No. 11 Bears defeated Penn 1-0 in Ivy League men’s soccer action. The shutout was the Bears’ 10th of the season, and the victory stretched their unbeaten streak to 11 games.
|Oct. 8||Mercy||W, 3-0|
|Oct. 10||Assumption||W, 2-0|
|Oct. 13||Merrimack||W, 3-0|
|Oct. 16||Southern Connecticut St.||W, 2-1|
|Oct. 20||Stonehill||W, 2-0|
|Oct. 24||New Haven||W, 2-0|
|Oct. 27||Bentley||W, 1-0|
• The No. 12 Florida State volleyball team continued its winning ways last week, recording three victories, including a midweek sweep of instate rival No. 11 Florida. The Seminoles followed up the win versus the Gators with sweeps of Atlantic Coast Conference foes Virginia and Virginia Tech to stretch their winning streak to 14 consecutive matches. All three victories were at home, improving FSU’s program-best home winning streak to 22 matches. The Seminoles have not lost a match at home since 2010.
• Two programs punched their tickets to the Division III Football Championship during the weekend as UW-Oshkosh and Cortland each clinched shares of their respective league titles. Cortland notched a 31-17 victory against Kean to claim at least a share of the New Jersey Athletic Conference title and the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA championship. Cortland extended its winning streak to seven games.
UW-Oshkosh captured its first Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title in 36 years with a 41-7 win at UW-La Crosse on Saturday. The Titans moved to 5-0 in WIAC action. UW-Eau Claire, UW-Platteville and UW-Whitewater list second in the standings with 3-2 records. Because the Titans defeated each of those teams, UW-Oshkosh is headed to the NCAA Division III playoffs. The Titans are 8-0 for the first time in program history.
• No. 10 Shippensburg kept its Division II-best winning streak intact, extending it to 13 games with a thrilling 49-42 victory against No. 3 Bloomsburg in Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference action on Saturday. With just 4.8 seconds remaining in the contest, senior wide receiver Bryan Barley pulled down a two-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Zach Zulli to send the Raiders to the PSAC State Game as the Eastern Division title winner. With 654 yards of total offense in Saturday’s game, Shippensburg established a new school record for total offensive yards in a season (5,179).
• The No. 3 Syracuse field hockey team claimed its third Big East regular season title in the last four years by edging No. 4 Connecticut 3-2 in the regular season finale on Saturday. The Orange will be the top seed in the league tournament next week after finishing conference action with a 6-0 mark.
• The defending NCAA champion College of Saint Rose finished off the regular season on a roll, notching its sixth shutout in the last seven games with a 1-0 win against Bentley on Saturday in Division II women’s soccer. The No. 17 Golden Knights, who shared the regular season title with American International, will be the No. 2-seeded team in the Northeast-10 Conference Championship beginning Monday.
• Michele Schrift’s second-half hat trick sparked the West Chester field hockey team to a 4-0 win against Millersville in the PSAC Championship game on Saturday. Schrift was voted the Most Valuable Player of the tournament as the Golden Rams won their first PSAC title. West Chester, the defending Division II national champions, now awaits Monday’s announcement of the NCAA championship bracket.
• The third-ranked Oregon women’s cross country team won their first Pac-12 Conference title since 1995 behind Jordan Hasay’s runner-up finish on Saturday. Hasay, a senior from Arroyo Grande, Calif., finished the race with a time of 20:10. She won this race as a sophomore in 2010 and was third a year ago.
|THE DIGIT||THE 4-1-1|
||The Western Kentucky and Morehead State women’s volleyball teams both stretched their winning streaks to 18 matches with wins during the weekend. They are tied for the longest active winning streak in the nation. Both squads are 12-0 in their respective leagues – the Sun Belt and Ohio Valley Conference.|
|39||Division III’s North Central College won its 39th consecutive College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin men’s cross country championship. The third-ranked squad had seven finishers in the top 12. North Central has won every league championship meet since 1974.|
|59||Concordia-St. Paul sophomore kicker Tom Obarski hit a 59-yard field goal in a 35-27 loss to Augustana in Division II football on Saturday. Obarski broke his own school record with the kick. It is the longest field goal in Division II football this season.|
|500||Connecticut head coach Len Tsantiris collected his 500th career win with a 3-1 win against Rutgers on Thursday becoming just the second coach in NCAA women’s soccer history to reach the milestone. Tsantris has posted a 500-170-50 record in 32 seasons at the helm of the program. North Carolina’s Anson Dorrance is the only other coach to accomplish the feat.|
|1954||The Hobart College football team improved to 8-0 for the first time since 1954 with a 42-34 victory against Union College in Division III Liberty League action on Saturday. The No. 6 Statesmen ran for a season-high 355 yards, including a career-high 199 yards and two touchdowns for junior tailback Steven Webb.|
• Old Dominion sophomore quarterback Taylor Heinicke leads the nation with 24 touchdown passes on the season, yet he did not throw any scores in the No. 7 Monarchs’ 31-26 victory against No. 16 Delaware in the Oyster Bowl on Saturday. Heinicke completed 36-of-45 passes for 375 yards, and while he did not throw any TDs, he did run for a career-high three scores. Heinicke leads the nation with 25.0 “points responsible for” per game.
• Utah State senior Josselynn White notched a school-record .812 hitting percentage as the Aggies swept Louisiana Tech in Western Athletic Conference women’s volleyball on Saturday. USU also set a team school mark with its 12th consecutive WAC victory.
• No. 8 BYU-Hawaii clinched the Pacific West Conference women’s volleyball automatic berth to the NCAA Division II Championship despite the fact the league title has not yet been decided. The Seasiders are 13-0 in the PacWest, but Fresno Pacific is also unbeaten at 11-0. The two teams will meet on Tuesday in a regular season match, but Fresno Pacific is not yet eligible for the NCAA championships, so BYU-Hawaii gets the nod.
• By knocking off Heidelberg on Friday, the No. 10 Mount Union women’s volleyball team finished the regular season with an unbeaten mark in Division III’s Ohio Athletic Conference play as the Raiders won their first regular season league championship. Their nine OAC wins set a school record, and clinched the top seed and home-court advantage in the league tournament.
• The No. 1 Minnesota State women’s soccer squad captured its first regular season championship in Division II’s Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference with a 2-0 defeat of Winona State on Friday, ending the Warriors’ streak of eight consecutive regular season titles. MSU has won 13 consecutive matches and boasts an unbeaten streak of 15 consecutive matches.
• The West Virginia women’s soccer team went through its first season as a member of the Big 12 Conference unbeaten following a 1-0 win against Texas on Friday. The Mountaineers posted a 7-0-1 mark in league action thanks to a game-winning goal by junior Kara Blosser in the 98th minute of play. WVU also extended its unbeaten streak to 13 matches.
Follow Amy Farnum on Twitter: @NCAA_Amy