Friday, 7:00 PM
(2) Virginia (18-2-0; 3rd – ACC; WTSR – 1.56, 2nd – ACC)
High Point (12-4-4; 3rd – Big South; WTSR – 1.48, 1st – Big South)
Well, I Suppose High Point May Have Hoped For Someone of the Non-UNC Variety…
Be careful what you wish for!
Tell Me A Little About High Point.
The Big South Tournament champions are renowned for their ability in that competition and were hardly a surprise auto bid winner considering they also were #1 in WTSR in the league despite finishing third in the conference in the regular season. The Panthers didn’t really face much top competition in non-conference play. Their lone match against anyone in the RPI Top 80 came against South Carolina, a match which they lost, 2-0.
Give Me A Few HPU Players to Watch.
Massive center-back Alise Lecompte really came of age as a senior, turning into one of her league’s best defenders and gets the unlucky task of trying to mark Makenzy Doniak out of the game. Going forward, midfielder Jenny Marshall is another fine talent for this level and led the team with three game winning goals. But offense isn’t this team’s strong suit. Leading scorer Jacky Kessler has just five goals that weren’t from the penalty spot. That’s a problem considering the defense has also been leaky lately, with one clean sheet in their last nine matches.
So This Is Going To Be Vicious?
Yeah, sadly so. High Point hasn’t been afraid to put everyone behind the ball in past NCAA Tournament’s, but even that isn’t likely to save them from a thrashing at the hands of UVA.
Wait, Why Is Virginia in UCLA’s Quadrant of the Bracket?
Look, we told you UVA’s non-conference schedule might cost them.
Come On, Are They Really The Worst #2 Seed?
You could probably make a case that they’re the best #2 seed. But when your non-conference schedule includes zero teams that make the NCAA Tournament, there are going to be repercussions.
Shut Your Face Numbers Dork. Tell Me If Virginia Has A Chance To Win It All.
Well, you wouldn’t put them amongst the top picks after Sunday’s rather tepid loss to Florida State, but it’s hard to argue that the Cavs still aren’t one of the top handful of teams in this competition. Unsurprisingly, the defense wasn’t as strong as in past seasons, giving up a little under a goal a game in the league, but the offense more than compensated in scoring a ridiculous 3.5 goals a game in ACC play. They score multiple goals against every single team they faced, save for Florida State. And the last time I checked, FSU was on the opposite side of the bracket.
OK, So The Cavs’ Attack Is Pretty Good…
Yeah. Makenzy Doniak may not have scored twenty goals, but she still netted fourteen in twenty matches, including eight in the league. Doniak may be the best center forward in the competition and has the seasoning and the talent to light this year’s NCAA Tournament up. It’s not just her though. There’s a midfielder you may have heard of named Morgan Brian ready to terrorize opposing defenses in her final bid for a title. Brian hasn’t quite lived up to her opposition killing 2013 season, but the future #1 NWSL Draft pick has been juggling some serious responsibilities this season, missing half the ACC slate on international duty with the USWNT. She still managed five goals in the five games she did play in the ACC and will be looking to add the final adornment to a glittering college career. Brian didn’t have a great influence in the FSU defeat on Sunday, and she’s going to have to play well against the very best teams for UVA to have a chance at victory.
The underappreciated gem is Danielle Colaprico. A player with a legitimate shot at being a first round draft pick in this year’s NWSL Draft, Colaprico’s a veritable Swiss army knife in midfield, able to play in all four midfield positions in UVA’s 4-4-2 but tending to do her best damage out on the flank after functioning as the playmaker in the absence of Brian. Colaprico’s service from the flanks is deadly, and the senior has fifteen assists to go with six goals, with nine of those assists coming in the club’s ten league games. Stopping the midfielder will be crucial to stop the Cavs.
…but How About That Defense?
Yeah, that’s the million dollar question. Virginia’s rearguard was by no means a revolving door, they did only concede multiple goals once, to Boston College, all season. But it’s not exactly a fortress either. The only true star on the backline is center-back Emily Sonnett, who has been tasked with being the glue to bring together a unit that replaced three starters last year. Kristen McNabb has been fine as a center-back partner, while neither Tina Iordanou nor Megan Reid look likely to bring back memories of Molly Menchel out at full-back. Sonnett’s 5’7″ and the taller of the two center-backs, with McNabb standing at just 5’5″. The bigger Meghan Cox also has gotten a run out in the middle this year with her height and might be a dark horse against teams with bigger forwards. Still, the group is technically composed for the most part and has enjoyed success for much of the year. Morgan Stearns is a fine last line of defense in goal as well.
In short, the defense probably isn’t going to cost the club a match, but the offense is going to be what wins it for UVA.
So An Elite Eight Loss To UCLA Sounds About Right?
Yeah. Curse the matchmakers who set the bracket up this way. Wouldn’t you rather have seen Virginia against Texas A&M or Stanford in the Elite Eight? That’s what I thought. As is, everyone else in UVA’s quad is plainly limited, and the Cavs shouldn’t have too much difficulty rumbling to the last eight. From there, it’s all about finding a way to kick sand in Goliath’s eyes and steal a spot in the Final Four.