Top-10 matchups on deck for Pac-12 women's soccer
The depth of Pac-12 women’s soccer was on display in the third full weekend of Pac-12 play in the 2013 season with some huge upsets and defensive battles. Some games proved that no team can take a day off in a tough Pac-12 slate from week to week. Washington, who had been hovering around .500 throughout most of the non-conference schedule, had a productive trip to L.A. knocking off USC and earning a 0-0 draw with then No. 3 UCLA. Arizona State had arguably the best road trip over the weekend, just narrowly losing to then No. 11 California after a penatly kick in a physical game that proved to be the difference in the Bears’ favor. The Sun Devil’s followed up on Sunday with their biggest win of the season, knocking off No. 2 Stanford in a 1-0 decision. The loss ended the Cardinal’s 44-match unbeaten streak and 73-match home-unbeaten streak, which was second longest in NCAA Division 1 history. Big matchups loom in week four of Pac-12 play--games that will put title aspirations on the line. Three Pac-12 teams now occupy the top-10 and one will go head-to-head with the other two in the Bay Area this weekend. No. 2 UCLA will travel north to face No. 5/4 Stanford for a Thursday night marquee game at 7:30 p.m. on the Pac-12 Networks. It doens’t get any easier for the Bruins as they will face No. 8/13 California on Sunday morning at 11 a.m. PT. Other intriguing games include Utah and Colorado heading to the state of Washington to take on the Huskies and Cougars in games that could, depending on outcome, create separation near the top of the standings.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
- Unbeatens: California is one of four teams nationally that remain unbeaten as Cal sit atop the Pac-12 Standings. (1) Virigina, (3) Florida State, and (6) Georgetown are the other three. Cal’s 12-game unbeaten streak is the best since 2000 and only the fifth time in program history that the team has gone unbeaten through 12 or more games. The Golden Bears have yet to allow anyone to score in the first half. California is also one of three teams that have a zero in the loss column in Conference play, UCLA and Utah being the other two. WSU and Stanford both lost over the weekend to end their undefeated streaks on the season, and in Cardinal’s case, two significant streaks that spanned multiple years were snapped by Arizona State. Stanford had not lost a Pac-12 match since 2008 and had not been beaten at home since 2007. The Cougars also saw a 14-match streak that dated back to last season end at the hands of the Bruins.
- Rankings: A win and a tie over the weekend, coupled with a Stanford loss, moved the Bruins up to the No. 2 rankings in both major polls, a spot once occupied by the Cardinal. Stanford only drops a few spots, appearing at No. 4 in one poll and No. 5 in the other. California finally broke into the top 10 in one poll, sitting at No. 8, and moving up two spots to No. 13 in the second. In the NSCAA poll, Arizona State, Washington State and Colorado all received votes this week. It was the Cougars’ seventh week in a row and Colorado’s sixth-straight week receiving votes in the coaches poll, while Arizona State pulled in some votes after being left out for two- consecutive weeks.
- Pac-12 Coach Makes History: With the Sun Devil’s upset of then No. 2 Stanford on Sunday, Arizona State head coach Kevin Boyd became ASU’s all-time leader in career wins (61). He now holds that distinction at two-Pac-12 schools as he is also Cal’s all-time leader in career wins (124). Boyd has a special knack for turning programs around. After taking over at California in 1997, he led the Bears to the NCAA tournament in 1998 for the first time in five years. Since coming to ASU in 2007 he has already equalled the number of NCAA appearances (3) that the program had in the 11 seasons prior to his arrival.
- Tough Schedules: UCLA, Stanford, California and Colorado all rank in the top-25, including two (UCLA, Stanford) in the top-6, in RPI rankings for NCAA Division 1 women’s soccer. The four teams have combined for a 38-4-5 mark in 2013, a solid feat despite tough schedules. The Bruins were particularly impressive as they went through a stretch where they faced four-consecutive top-25 teams, three of which were in the top-12. Their only loss came at the hands of defending national champion and then ranked No. 1 North Carolina.