Pac-12 title decided, but plenty on the line in last week of women's soccer
The last full weekend of the 2013 regular season for Pac-12 women’s soccer followed suit with the story of the league this year, with unpredictable finishes and unlikely winners. But one thing that has been constant this season is No. 2 UCLA’s dominance, both in their non-conference schedule and in Pac-12 play. The preseason favorites lived up to their regular season expectations, clinching the title this weekend with a pair of wins over Oregon State and Oregon at home. The Bruins managed to go unbeaten in conference play under first year coach Amanda Cromwell to claim their 11th title overall and first since 2008. It was their title to lose and the Bruins made sure to take care of business and are looking strong heading into the postseason. Despite the title being decided, it was an important weekend for teams fighting to get into the NCAA tournament. While some faltered a bit, others made their case why they should be included. Biggest winner of the weekend was Washington State, who knocked off No. 21 California and No. 8 Stanford at home on Friday and Sunday to grab possession of second place and seemingly secure a spot in the tournament. After the impressive weekend, the Cougars entered the polls for the first time this season at No. 22/24. Arizona State also had a strong weekend, tying Colorado and beating Utah with a golden goal in overtime. Washington, California and Colorado in the meantime took a slight step back but their postseason dreams are far from over. With the rival game the only regular season match remaining on the schedule, the last week of the regular season will be as exciting as it is important as the Pac-12 is looking to get as many teams as possible into postseason play.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
- A New Champion: UCLA knocked Stanford off the Conference pedestal for the first time in 5 years. Before that, UCLA had won the title five out of the previous seven years. It’s been an impressive season for the No. 2-ranked Bruins, who saw their hard work pay off this weekend by clinching the Pac-12 title on Sunday. The work is far from done yet as UCLA sets its sight on another goal-- the national title. Pride is on the line as the Bruins face cross-town rival USC on Thursday, but so is momentum as they will want to keep up their winning ways heading into the tournament.
- DE-FENSE: It’s no surprise that the teams at the top have done it through strong defense and exceptional goalkeepers. UCLA leads the nation in goals-against-average thanks to goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland, who is second in goals-against-average (.320) and fifth in save-percentage (.897). Rowland has only given up six goals the entire year, including only three during Conference play. Utah, currently in fourth place, has an exciting young goalkeeper in sophomore Lindsey Luke. Luke is second in the nation in save percentage (.900) and 19th in goals-against-average (.545), a category she lead several times through the season. Gurveen Clair, Washington State’s junior goalkeeper, has turned in a solid year as well, collecting 13 wins and 13 shutouts to lead Washington State to a 13-3-3 record and a second-place spot in the Pac-12 with one game remaining.
- Rankings: Now unbeaten through 14 matches since their only loss of the season and a Pac-12 title under their belt, it’s no surprise UCLA continue to hold their No. 2 spot in both polls. After winning four in a row, Stanford fell on Sunday to WSU, but only dropped a few spots to remain in the top-10 in both polls. The Bears’ loss to the Cougars, despite the win over Washington, contributed to their fall out of the polls as they dropped out of the top-25 in both, a spot they haven’t been in all season; However, they still received votes in the NSCAA. The big news was the Cougars’ jump into both polls for the first time this season, coming in at No. 22 in one and No. 24 in another. Colorado and Utah continue to receive votes as they are both looking to polish their tourment resume against eachother on Friday.
- NCAA Selection Show & RPI: The NCAA Selection Show is next Monday, November 11 at 4:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. PT. RPI will be a tool used to determine at-large bids and several Pac-12 schools will be hoping their resume is strong enough to be one of the 64 teams in the tournament. Currently the Pac-12 have seven teams in the top-50, including four in the top-30. Current Pac-12 RPI (Top-64) rankings as of November 5 are as follows: (4) UCLA, (16) Stanford, (18) Washington State, (28) Colorado, (39) California, (44) Arizona State, (47) Utah & (64) Washington.
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