Conference competition is vital right now in women's college soccer so we're going to break down the final week of the regular season, conference by conference. Teams across the country are trying to build momentum, compete for their conference crowns and finalize their resumes prior to when the NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Committee reveals the 64-team field at 4:30 p.m. ET on Monday, Nov. 11.
Thirty-one teams will automatically make the 64-team field by winning their conferences. Most conferences, with the exception of the Ivy League, Pac-12 and West Coast Conference, will determine their automatic qualifier via conference tournaments that play out this week. For the three conferences that do not have tournaments, their automatic qualifier is determined by whichever team tops the standings after the final match of the regular season. Thirty-three teams will receive at-large bids.
Four ranked teams will battle it out for the ACC crown
No. 1 Virginia, No. 3 North Carolina, No. 5 Florida State and No. 23 NC State are the last four remaining teams in the ACC tournament. The semifinals and finals will be Friday and Sunday in Cary, North Carolina, at the WakeMed Soccer Park. FSU hopes to deal Virginia its first loss of the season at 2:30 p.m. ET on Nov. 8. North Carolina State and Florida State play the second semifinal at 5 p.m. The semifinal matches are on the ACC Network. The ACC championship will be on ESPNU.
Virginia had the hardest road to the semifinals. The Cavs opened tournament play against a tough No. 9 Duke squad that has kept things close with opponents all season. The Blue Devils have seven ties, just one fewer than their total wins. The Cavs prevailed 1-0, behind a second-half goal from leading goal-scorer Meghan McCool (14 goals).
The Seminoles beat Clemson in the quarterfinals 2-1 thanks to a goal from Jaelin Howell and a miraculous corner-kick goal from Deyna Castellanos. Virginia prevailed in the first matchup between the two on Oct. 13, 1-0 in Tallahassee.
We had some great goals this week. Which one do you think was the best? pic.twitter.com/fcwy175ud9— FSU Soccer (@FSUSoccer) November 4, 2019
No. 3 North Carolina, the regular-season ACC champion, will take on in-state rival NC State after the Tar Heels shut out Notre Dame, 3-0. The Wolfpack, who are new to this week's United Soccer Coaches top-25 (No. 23), pulled off a 2-1 upset over then-No. 14 Louisville in overtime thanks to a golden goal from leading scorer Tziarra King (13). North Carolina hosted NC State on Sept. 26, and won 1-0.
Big 12 tournament could produce a national contender
The Big 12 hasn't had a team in the top 10 all year, until now. No. 10 Oklahoma State is officially the team to beat out of the Big 12. The Cowgirls not only snagged the regular-season Big 12 crown this season, but they lead the conference in goals scored with 47. Oklahoma State will face No. 21 Kansas at 5:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Nov. 8. The Jayhawks knocked off West Virginia in the quarterfinals 2-0, as the Cowgirls beat Oklahoma 2-1. Oklahoma State head into this rematch of an Oct. 3 game that favored the Cowgirls heavily — they won 5-2.
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No. 13 Texas Tech will face TCU on the other side of the bracket. The Red Raiders escaped Baylor in the quarterfinals winning 1-0, as the Horned Frogs beat Texas 0-0 (3-1) in penalty kicks. Texas Tech touts the Big 12's leading scorer, Kirsten Davis, who has 16 goals on the season. TCU is the only non-ranked team remaining in the Big 12. The Red Raiders seek revenge after TCU got the better of them, 2-1, on Oct. 18.
The semifinals are on ESPN+ and the finals are on FS1.
Purdue looks to keep rolling in the Big Ten tourney after Wisconsin upset
Purdue pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the season in the Big Ten quarterfinals this past weekend. The Boilermakers stunned Wisconsin, then-No. 7 nationally and No. 1 in the Big Ten, beating the Badgers 1-0 on Nov. 3. Purdue will face Penn State in the semifinals on Nov. 8. Their lone goal came from Ena Sabanagic, who netted it at the end of the first half. The Nittany Lions are coming off a 2-0 win over Iowa and will look to avenge their 2-1 loss versus Purdue on Oct. 13. Penn State and Purdue will kick off at 11 a.m. ET on Nov. 8.
There are two teams who have found themselves in pretty favorable positions with Wisconsin out of the mix. No. 19 Michigan and No. 15 Rutgers have been the second and third best teams in the Big Ten all year, trailing the Badgers who established themselves as a national title contender throughout the regular season. The Wolverines are coming off a dominant quarterfinal victory against Maryland where they shut out the Terrapins 3-0 behind goals from Danielle Wolfe, Meredith Haakenson and Emma Cooper. The Scarlet Knights netted a first-half goal against Indiana in the quarterfinals and were able to use their defense from there to notch the 1-0 victory. Michigan-Rutgers faced each other just a couple of weeks ago when Rutgers edged out a 1-0 win. The rematch will take place at 1:30 p.m. ET on Nov. 8.
Both the semifinals and finals will be on the Big Ten Network.
The Pac-12 is all Stanford's
Stanford (10-0-0) has clinched the Pac-12. Defending MAC Hermann award winner Catarina Macario leads the Cardinal (and the country) in goals (23) and assists (16). The Cardinal leads the Pac-12 standings by nine points. Without Macario, No. 2 Stanford definitely would not be where they are today as The Cardinal will wrap up their regular-season at home when they host California on Nov. 8. The match is at 10 p.m. ET on Pac-12 Bay Area.
Crosstown rivals No. 7 Southern Cal and No. 14 UCLA will battle for second place. Both the Trojans and the Bruins sit at 21 points. They play at 9 p.m. ET on Pac-12 Los Angeles.
Arkansas, South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Florida battle for an SEC title
The Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 5 seeds will battle it out for the SEC conference crown this coming weekend. No. 1 seed Arkansas will face the fifth-seeded Gators in one semifinal with South Carolina and Vanderbilt battling it out on the other side of the bracket.
The Razorbacks are fresh off a 1-0 win over Ole Miss, while the Gators edged a bit of an upset over No. 16 Texas A&M, winning 2-1. Florida looks to build on the momentum they garnered from beating the Aggies. Florida was 0-2-1 in their past three matches prior to their match versus Texas A&M. This will the first time these two teams play each other all year, and beating national No. 6 Arkansas would do wonders for Florida's confidence and resume heading into the NCAA tournament. The Razorbacks will try to continue their historic season. They lead the SEC in goals scored (54), are the highest-ranked they've ever been in school history (No. 6) and are the only team to beat powerhouse North Carolina this season. If there is a non-top-5 team to watch come NCAA tournament time, the Razorbacks check all the boxes — high-scoring, consistent in conference play and experienced in beating top-ranked teams. Florida and Arkansas will kick off at 4:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, Nov. 7.
No. 2 seed Vanderbilt and No. 3 seed South Carolina face each other on the opposite side of the bracket. The Gamecocks have been a team that has been ranked in the top-10 nationally all season but will face a formidable foe in Vanderbilt. The Commodores have the exact same goals-per-game average as the Gamecocks with 1.89. The last matchup between is another testament to how evenly matched these two teams are, as the two stalled out in a 0-0 draw on Oct. 13. Vanderbilt beat Alabama 2-1 to make it to the semifinals, with the Gamecocks shutting out Georgia 1-0 in their quarterfinal match. They will play at 7 p.m. ET, also on Nov. 7.
Both semifinal matches and the final can be watched on SEC Network. The SEC final will be at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, Nov. 10.
BYU and Brown look to join Stanford and clinch their conferences this week
Just like the Pac-12, the Ivy League and the West Coast Conference also don't have a conference tournament. These two conferences feature two of the top teams in the country — BYU and Brown. BYU has the opportunity to claim the WCC title this week. It is one of two undefeated teams left in DI women's soccer, along with Virginia. The Cougars currently have two matches left on the season and lead the WCC by 2 points. On Wednesday, Nov. 6 they take on Gonzaga at 10 p.m. ET. On Saturday, Nov. 9 BYU will face Loyola Marymount also at 10 p.m. ET. Both matches will be on the WCC Network.
FINAL: Brown 2, Merrimack 0— BrownWSoccer (@Brown_WSoccer) November 6, 2019
• Bears have set a program record with 14 wins
• Brown improves to 11-0-0 at home
• Bears tie a program record with 12 SO
• Goals: Claire Myers (33'), Rebecca Rosen (85')
• Assists: Sydney Cummings: 2#GoBruno 🐻⚽️ pic.twitter.com/cRXGA8Jw9Y
In the Ivy League, Brown has emerged as the top-tier representative out of the conference. The Bears officially clinched the Ivy League crown when they knocked off Merrimack on Nov. 5. The 2-0 victory comes just days before Brown plays their final match of the season — Nov. 9 vs. Yale. It entered the top-25 for the first time last week and will continue to rise (currently sitting at No. 17). Don't sleep on Brown as it, just like their mascot, could be a dangerous team to be caught snoozing around come tournament time.