BOCA RATON, Fla. -- The field is set for this weekend’s NCAA Division I championship, where a new champion will be crowned from the four teams vying for the title.
Perhaps the only certainty is that top-ranked and defending champion UCLA won’t repeat after losing to Virginia during last week’s quarterfinals. Thus the Cavaliers, Stanford, Florida State and Texas A&M converge on South Florida as the final four College Cup competitors. All are top-10 ranked in the latest National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll and all sport compelling story lines.Friday’s two national semifinals and Sunday’s national championship match will be played at Florida Atlantic University Stadium on the FAU campus in Boca Raton. Virginia and Texas A&M play the first semifinal at 5 p.m. ET, Friday. FSU and Stanford follow. Winners advance to Sunday’s 1 p.m. title match.
Florida State (22-1-1), the defending national runner-up, beat South Carolina 5-0 last Friday to advance to the College Cup for the fourth consecutive year and the eighth time in school history. In doing so, FSU became the seventh program to advance to a national Division I semifinal for a fourth consecutive season. The Seminoles also finished as national runner-up in 2007; however, they seek their first NCAA crown. Senior forward Dagny Brynjarsdottir leads the way with a team-high 16 goals, 38 points, 85 shots, 48 shots on goal and five game-winning goals.
Texas A&M (22-2-2) beat Penn State 2-1 last Saturday to advance to the College Cup. It’s the Aggies’ first trip to the national semifinals and it comes in their 20th consecutive NCAA tournament. Their 22 wins is a school record, topping the previous mark of 20 set in 2002. They’re also unbeaten in their last 14 matches (13-0-1), and last lost on Oct. 3, to Florida.
Senior midfielder Kelley Monogue leads Texas A&M with a team-high 17 goals, 44 points, 98 shots and 44 shots on goal. Right behind her is senior forward Shea Groom with 16 goals, 39 points, 79 shots, 33 shots on goal and a team-high seven game-winning goals. Monogue and senior forward Bianca Brinson each have a team-high five game-wining goals.“That was one of the goals the team set back in January, when we started to point towards this season,” Texas A&M head coach G Guerrieri said of his team’s first College Cup berth. “Winning a national championship is our goal. Getting to the College Cup was right under that. The elite eight was right under that.”
Virginia (22-2) beat defending champion UCLA 2-1 last Friday to advance to the College Cup for the second consecutive year. It also was the Cavaliers’ second victory against a top-ranked team. Junior forward Makenzy Doniak leads with a team-high 19 goals, 49 points, 91 shots and 46 shots on goal. She and teammate Morgan Brian each have scored four game-winning goals.
Stanford (20-1-3) beat Florida 4-3 in overtime last Friday to advance to the College Cup for the sixth time in seven years. Goalkeeper Jane Campbell actually notched the game winner in the penalty-kick round. The Cardinal won the 2011 NCAA title after finishing as runner-ups in 2009 and 2010, and lost to UCLA in the third round of last year’s NCAA tournament. Senior midfielder Lo’eau Labonta leads with a team-high 13 goals, 31 points and seven game-winning goals.
“We’re happy to be back,” Stanford head coach Paul Ratcliffe said. “Last year we didn’t get there. I think it’s a great treat for the kids and the thing we all look forward to is going to the final four. It’s going to be a really fun weekend and the opportunity to claim the national championship is a great carrot for all of us.”