UNC’s Meghan Klingenberg Has Led By Example For the Tar Heels in 2010
This is the first of a series of mid-season reviews. Technically, we’re still a week away from the middle of the regular season, but with most conferences starting league play this week, it only seems fitting to mark the important switch with a look at where we just came from. RPI is based on Chris Thomas’ unofficial estimate based on data through Sunday. “The Upside” refers to how far I think a team can get in the NCAA Tournament if everything goes right for them (hence why there’ll be more than four teams listed in the Final Four over the next few days).
4 – Boston College
6 – North Carolina
30 – Maryland
40 – Virginia Tech
44 – Wake Forest
46 – Virginia
47 – Florida State
51 – Duke
72 – Miami (FL)
84 – NC State
179 – Clemson
Mid-Term MVP: Meghan Klingenberg (M) – North Carolina (Honorable Mention: Crystal Dunn (D) – UNC, Kealia Ohai (F) – UNC, Victoria DiMartino (F) – Boston College, Jillian Mastroianni (GK) – Boston College, Ashley Grove (F) – Maryland)
Mid-Term Top Newcomer: Crystal Dunn (D) – North Carolina (Honorable Mention: Ohai, Rachel Nuzzolese (F) – Wake Forest, Katie Stengel (F) – Wake Forest)
Mid-Term Top Goalkeeper: Jillian Mastroianni – Boston College (Honorable Mention: Anna Sieloff – UNC, Tara Campbell – Duke)
Most Surprising: None – I’d say that everyone’s performing up to their capabilities (or lack thereof).
Most Disappointing: Again, it’s really difficult to pick someone out who’ve been tremendous disappointments.
Best Hope for A National Title: North Carolina, although that pick might change after Thursday.
Best Hope for A College Cup Gatecrasher: Virginia – Do they count? They certainly played themselves out of top contender status on Sunday. Otherwise, Maryland certainly has a shot if their “score one more than their opponent” tactics hold up for four matches.
Boston College (RPI Ranking – 4)
Best Result: 5-0 vs Hofstra
Worst Result: None
Leading Scorer: Victoria DiMartino (7 G, 2 A)
Top Newcomer: Patrice Vettori (M)
What I Said: ” BC will get a test of their national title credentials right off the bat against Stanford. A win could kick start realistic dreams of glory.”
What I Should Have Said: A draw would also signal that BC could play with the nation’s elite
Mid-Term Grade: (A-) – Eagles have hardly put a foot wrong, but have only really played one big-time opponent thus far
Chris’ Odds of NCAA Tournament At-Large Bid: 100%
The Upside: National Champions. Why not? BC has the firepower to crush most in their path and Jillian Mastroianni is an elite keeper capable of winning games on her own.
North Carolina (RPI Ranking – 6)
Best Result: 3-0 vs Texas A&M
Worst Result: 1-0 vs Cal Poly
Leading Scorer: Alyssa Rich (7 G, 5 A)
Top Newcomer: Crystal Dunn (D)
What I Said: “Counting out the Tar Heels before a ball has been kicked would be foolish, but North Carolina figures to take their lumps early with a challenge filled non-conference schedule preceding the always rough ACC schedule.”
What I Should Have Said: …but this UNC team is more than capable of dealing out plenty of lumps themselves
Mid-Term Grade: A – Because I don’t give out A+’s. Have been devastating in attack.
Chris’ Odds of NCAA Tournament At-Large Bid: 100%
The Upside: National Champions – Defense still a bit porous at times but that offense is colossal. If the rookie wall and attrition doesn’t cripple some of the players, it could be difficult stopping this team come NCAA Tournament time.
Maryland (RPI Ranking – 30)
Best Result: 3-2 vs Missouri
Worst Result: 2-1 vs George Mason
Leading Scorer: Ashley Grove (6 G, 3A) & Sade Ayinde (5 G, 5 A)
Top Newcomer: None
What I Said: “If coach Brian Pensky can get the most out of potential star Sade Ayinde, the Terps could have one of the best attacks in the tough ACC”
What I Should Have Said: Even off the bench, Ayinde can be an amazing super-sub that can turn games on their head in the blink of an eye.
Mid-Term Grade: B – Lots of goals, but also more than their fair share conceded. And a lot of cupcakes on the ledger.
Chris’ Odds of NCAA Tournament At-Large Bid: 90%
The Upside: Final Four – Terps can win shootouts with just about anyone. But with a bit of a defensive sieve in place, they could be in trouble against obstinate defenses.
Virginia Tech (RPI Ranking – 40)
Best Result: 4-1 vs Villanova
Worst Result: 1-2 vs Long Beach State
Leading Scorer: Kelly Conheeney (4 G, 6 A) & Kelsey Billups (6 G, 2 A)
Top Newcomer: Jazmine Reeves (F)
What I Said: “With an unsettled situation in goal, Gray and company will likely need to be on target once more for the Hokies to contend for honors.”
What I Should Have Said: …and even then goalkeeping worries may derail this side
Mid-Term Grade: (B-) – Have turned it around in the past few weeks but look a cut below the ACC elite
Chris’ Odds of NCAA Tournament At-Large Bid: 15%
The Upside: NCAA Tournament First Round – Dayle Colpitts has been far from inspiring in goal, and teams without settled goalkeeping situations don’t tend to go far.
Wake Forest (RPI Ranking – 44)
Best Result: 2-0 vs Kentucky
Worst Result: 2-3 vs Villanova
Leading Scorer: Rachel Nuzzolese (6 G, 4 A)
Top Newcomer: Nuzzolese (F) and Katie Stengel (F)
What I Said: “Freshmen Rachel Nuzzolese and Katie Stengel enter Winston-Salem with big credentials and will need to live up to them early on if Wake harbors hopes of being more than mid-table makeweights in 2010.”
What I Should Have Said: If Nuzzolese and Stengel get off to a flying start, the Demon Deacons could be irrepressible going forward.
Mid-Term Grade: B – Wake looks like an inconsistent but promising team.
Chris’ Odds of NCAA Tournament At-Large Bid: 75%
The Upside: Final Sixteen – Nuzzolese and Stengel may have enough to fire the Demon Deacons out of the first round if they’re on form. If not, it’ll be an early exit.
Virginia (RPI Ranking – 46)
Best Result: 4-0 vs Texas
Worst Result: 1-1 vs Penn State
Leading Scorer: Meghan Lenczyk (7 G, 2 A)
Top Newcomer: Molly Menchel (F)
What I Said: “If forwards Lauren Alwine and Meghan Lenczyk are in form, Virginia could have a complete team, ready to challenge for ACC honors and perhaps more”
What I Should Have Said: “The Cavs still need their offense to show up consistently and not just against easy prey”
Mid-Term Grade: B+ – The Wahoos proneness to the odd stinker reared its ugly head against West Virginia. That won’t cut it in a conference title race.
Chris’ Odds of NCAA Tournament At-Large Bid: 95%
The Upside: Final Four – If on their game, they’re a match for anyone. But would you put money on this team stringing together consistent performances in the clutch?
Florida State (RPI Ranking – 47)
Best Result: 3-1 vs Central Florida
Worst Result: 2-3 vs Auburn
Leading Scorer: Tori Huster (4 G, 3 A)
Top Newcomer: Janice Cayman (F)
What I Said: “FSU figures to still notch their share of wins, but the lack of established firepower probably means a step or two back from national prominence.”
What I Should Have Said: …or three if people noticed who some of FSU’s wins were against.
Mid-Term Grade: C+ – UCF win was good, but the rest of the profile is worryingly thin. That defeat to Auburn may be their most telling result
Chris’ Odds of NCAA Tournament At-Large Bid: 65%
The Upside: Final Sixteen – Noles probably have enough to get by with a depleted offense for one round in the Big Dance and Krikorian’s wiles on the bench may be good enough for another. But make no mistake, this team will likely be going home a lot earlier than they’re used to.
Duke (RPI Ranking – 51)
Best Result: 1-1 vs Florida
Worst Result: 0-0 vs Florida International
Leading Scorer: Laura Weinberg (4 G, 1 A)
Top Newcomer: Weinberg (F)
What I Said: “U-20 World Cup roster member Mollie Pathman is expected to be the focal point of the offense right off the bat”
What I Should Have Said: …which could open up space in the attack for Laura Weinberg and others
Mid-Term Grade: B – The kids are alright, and so are Duke. Scoring consistently against tougher defenses is still a work in progress though.
Chris’ Odds of NCAA Tournament At-Large Bid: 70%
The Upside: Final Sixteen – Just the type of team that causes nightmares in tournament play. Rock solid defensively and capable of grinding out 1-0 wins. The best is yet to come for this young squad, but they’re plenty good enough to win a few games in the NCAA Tournament.
Miami (FL) (RPI Ranking – 72)
Best Result: 2-1 vs West Virginia
Worst Result: 0-1 vs Arkansas
Leading Scorer: Brittney Steinbruch (5 G, 0 A)
Top Newcomer: Kelley Griffin (F)
What I Said: “If Steinbruch can get her goal scoring groove back, Miami may have a prayer of a chance of postseason action.
What I Should Have Said: Even if she does, their quality to compete at the highest level is marginal at best.
Mid-Term Grade: C – Running about par for the course for this group
Chris’ Odds of NCAA Tournament At-Large Bid: 5%
The Upside: ACC Tournament Berth – May be able to scratch out a result or two against teams not on their guard, but consistency required for NCAA Tournament hopes isn’t evident.
NC State (RPI Ranking – 84)
Best Result: 1-2 vs Texas
Worst Result: 0-1 vs East Carolina
Leading Scorer: Kristina Argiroff (4 G, 4 A) & Jennie Krauser (4 G & 4 A)
Top Newcomer: Krauser (F)
What I Said: “progress in the ACC can often be glacial”
What I Should Have Said: …but positive signs are afoot in Raleigh.
Mid-Term Grade: (B-) – The rot has been stopped and the Wolfpack should soon be able to continue their upward progress. Still some ways off the conference elite, but look capable of an upset or two in league play.
Chris’ Odds of NCAA Tournament At-Large Bid: 1%
The Upside: ACC Tournament Berth – They’ll likely have to be content with the role of lively spoiler once more, but the Pack have definitely improved over last year. If they can keep their head up after an inevitable thrashing or two at the hands of the conference’s upper tier, they might just be able to sneak in the back door with a shock win or two.
Clemson (RPI Ranking – 179)
Best Result: 3-1 vs Jacksonville
Worst Result: 3-4 vs High Point
Leading Scorer: Maddy Elder (5 G, 3 A)
Top Newcomer: Lauren Arnold (GK)
What I Said: “Lauren Arnold is one of the best goalkeeping recruits in the nation and an immediate upgrade”
What I Should Have Said: But Clemson needs more than one big name recruit to fill a litany of holes all over the roster.
Mid-Term Grade: F – Losing to one Big South team is bad. Losing to two is inexcusable for an ACC team.
Chris’ Odds of NCAA Tournament At-Large Bid: Significantly Less Than Zero
The Upside: Actually Scoring A Point in ACC Play – They have a ghost of a chance with Miami (FL) and NC State coming to Riggs Field. But it’d take a brave pundit to pick them not propping up the table.
Revised Projected Order of Finish:
1. Boston College
2. North Carolina (up from 3rd)
3. Virginia (down from 2nd)
5. Duke (up from 6th)
6. Wake Forest (up from 7th)
7. Florida State (down from 5th)
8. Virginia Tech
9. NC State
10. Miami (FL)