Pac-12 women's soccer continues to surprise
It was another unpredictable weekend full of close endings, golden goals and surprise outcomes. Pac-12 women’s soccer got a little more interesting as the depth of the Conference was again on display. Stanford’s reign over the Pac-12 and the hunt for their fifith-consecutive title could be in serious jeapordy as they dropped two games over the weekend, giving them three consecutive losses in Conference-play. The No. 2 Bruins made a statement in the Bay Area, scoring a golden goal in the second overtime to take down the then-No. 5 Cardinal 2-1. It was their first win at Stanford since 2007 and their first win over the Cardinal in eight tries. They followed up the exciting win on Sunday as they handed No. 8/13 California their first loss of the season in a 1-0 victory over the Bears. The preseason Conference favorites sit atop the Pac-12 standings and have positioned themselves for a run at the title with a little less than a month left in the regular season. Several other teams will be making to look their own run to the NCAA tournament, which guarantees physical battles and close games with Pac-12 play heading into the final stretch. The upcoming slate is relatively light in terms of games as each Pac-12 team will only be playing one on the weekend. The No. 2 Bruins have a chance to distance themselves at the top, but it won’t be easy as they face an Arizona State team that is curently tied for third place. Utah will be looking to hold on to second-place, but will have to go through No. 8/10 Stanford. The Cardinal will surely be tough as they look to get back in the win column. With little distance in point differential between the top eight teams, the last three weeks are shaping up to be interesting ones.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
- Streaking: California, the last remaining unbeaten Pac-12 team, suffered their first loss over the weekend, losing 1-0 to No. 2 UCLA. Cal had extended the streak to 13-games with a 1-1 draw with USC on Friday. It was the best start through 13 games since 1993. Stanford dropped two more over the weekend to take the losing-streak to three, something that hasn’t happened since a streak between 2005-2006. The Cardinal hadn’t lost three-consecutive matches at home since losing four in a row in a streak that bridged the 1986 and 1987 seasons and they had never lost three consecutive conference matches at home. One of those loses came at the hands of USC, who broke a streak of their own. After dropping five consecutive matches, USC battled No. 8 California to a 1-1 draw and then pulled off the 1-0 upset over No. 5 Stanford to get back on the winning track. Junior forward Alex Quincey led the Trojans, scoring the equalizer against the Bears on Friday to secure at least a tie, then heading in a corner in the 59th minute against the Cardinal that proved to be the game-winner. Trojan goalkeeper Caroline Stanley also came up big, recording 13 saves on the weekend and only allowing one goal in the Bay Area.
- Rankings: The Bruins continue to play like the favorites they were tabbed at the beginning of the season. Since losing to defending national champion and then-No. 1 North Carolina, the Bruins have been unbeaten through nine matches and hold their No. 2 spot in both polls. Despite the three losses in a row, Stanford only dropped a few spot in each poll, coming in at eight in one and 10 in the other. After their first loss of the season, the Bears stayed in the top-10 in one poll at No. 8, but fell to No. 20 in another. Arizona State and Washington State continued to receive votes in the NSCAA poll despite both suffering losses over the weekend. The minimal movement in the polls shows the respect the voters have for the strength of the Pac-12.
- Offense overpowers defense: Utah and Washington State, both of which have been in the top-25 in the nation in shutout percentage, gave up their highest goal totals against eachother on Sunday. The Cougars gave up three goals in the first half, but Utah returned the favor, letting three in during the second half. The Utes, however, were able to win the overtime with a golden goal, but both defenses’ struggled during the match.
- Getting the W: Prior to the weekend, three teams had yet to pick up three points via a Conference win (Arizona, Oregon State, Oregon). All three were able to do so this weekend as Arizona beat Oregon State, Oregon State beat Arizona State, and Oregon beat Arizona.