There will be four No. 1 seeds in action when the final eight women's soccer teams in the NCAA tournament take the field Friday and Saturday to compete for a spot in the 2018 College Cup in Cary, North Carolina.
Here's everything you need to know about the match-ups and the teams competing for a coveted spot in the semifinal round.
(All times Eastern)
No. 1 Stanford vs. No. 2 Tennessee (Friday, Nov. 23, 5 p.m.)
Stanford, the defending national champion, survived a 1-0 match against Wisconsin in the third-round to continue its unbeaten season and earn the chance to face Tennessee at home. The Cardinal will challenge a Vols team in the quarterfinals for the first time in program history. Anchored by goalkeeper Shae Yanez, who tied a career high of eight saves against Texas A&M, the Volunteers have shut out opponents in twelve games this season. Tennessee won the last time these two teams met in 2006. This time, Stanford enters with the higher seed, holds a 44-game unbeaten streak and tops the country in shots per game and total goals scored. Sophomore Catarina Macario leads Stanford's offense with 33 points, including three against Ole Miss in the second round of the tournament. She was also named the Pac-12 forward of the year. Macario’s ability to create and score makes Stanford a dangerous threat to the Vols. But given the season Tennessee has had and its momentum heading into this quarterfinal game, expect these top-seeded teams to put on a show.
No. 1 Florida State vs. Penn State (Friday, Nov. 23, 2 p.m.)
The Seminoles, who won the title in 2014, will enter this year’s battle with the higher seed, but defeating the 2015 tournament champion Nittany Lions will be no easy task. Penn State has not lost a game in its last 13 outings, holding a 12-0-1 record during that period. The Nittany Lions defeated Bowling Green, South Carolina and Wake Forest to earn a spot in the quarterfinals and will face ACC champions Florida State, a team that narrowly snuck past Southern California on a penalty goal from Yujie Zhao after two scoreless overtime periods. Zhao sits second in team rankings for points with 18, topped only by Deyna Castellanos with 24. The Seminoles advance to the round of eight for the 12th time in 14 years, while the Nittany Lions will play in their fourth quarterfinals in five years and the 13th time in program history. This is the only matchup in the quarterfinals featuring an unseeded team.
No. 1 Georgetown vs. No. 2 Baylor (Saturday Nov. 24, noon)
Like Tennessee, Baylor also enters the quarterfinals in the midst of a record breaking season, having just notched a team-high 20th win against No. 3 Virginia in the previous round. The Bears are no stranger to postseason soccer. Baylor, like Stanford, UCLA and Penn State, advanced to the quarterfinals for the second year in a row, but prior to last year, the school had never finished beyond the third round. Led by their double-digit goal-scorers Julie James and Camryn Wendlandt, Baylor will attempt to upset No. 1 Georgetown, a team that holds a 20-0-3 record and just took down No. 4 Duke 4-1. Georgetown’s top scorer, Caitlin Farrell, was named Big East Offensive Player of the Year and notched her 18th goal of the season against the Blue Devils, tying a program record. The Hoyas put five players on the All-Big East first team and will now aim to use that depth to move past Baylor and earn a bid to the College Cup.
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 2 UCLA (Saturday, Nov. 24, 5 p.m.)
Despite losing the ACC tournament, North Carolina is playing like a national title contender, taking down its last two opponents, Kansas and Virginia Tech, by three goals each. However, the Tar Heels will need to get past No. 2 UCLA, a team that has impressed throughout the tournament. The Bruins are led by Ashley Sanchez, a sophomore who has rewritten the program record book this tournament. She has scored points in a program-high 12 consecutive games and has also notched more assists in the NCAA tournament, six, than any previous player in a single season at UCLA. She’s dominant, but so are the Tar Heels, the most decorated women’s soccer team in NCAA history. North Carolina’s 22 NCAA titles define the Tar Heel dynasty, but the team has not won a national championship since 2012, whereas the Bruins took home the title in 2013. This match has everything that soccer fans need: a high-scoring leader, a legacy team, and a College Cup bid on the line.