Saturday, 4:00 PM
(3) West Virginia (16-2-3; 1st – Big XII; WTSR – 1.46, 1st – Big XII)
Georgetown (11-4-5; 2nd – Big East; WTSR – 1.28, 3rd – Big East)
Yay, It’s A Worthy Rematch! Boo, It’s In The First Round!
This would be probably be acceptable in the second round, but in the first round? How exactly does a side like WVU win their league, win their conference tournament and draw this type of opponent in the first round? I’m sure we all know the answer right now, sadly.
So Does Georgetown Have A Shot of Going One Better than September and Beating WVU?
Well, the odds didn’t get any better when the club lost the towering Marina Paul to injury in the early part of the loss to DePaul. The Hoyas are already starting two rookies on the backline, and losing the experienced Paul from her center-back spot was a real punch to the gut for the Big East runners-up. The Georgetown defense has been very spotty this season, with Paul as the best defender on the club by some margin. Even with her in the fold, DePaul lit them up for three goals earlier in the season and Virginia Tech hit them for six. The injury to Paul puts even more pressure on Emma Newins in goal to clean up behind the backline. But still, the Hoyas aren’t likely to win too many matches with their D.
So It’s Offense All The Way, Right?
More like Daphne Corboz all the way. The senior midfielder has perhaps put up the quietest ten goal, eighteen assist season in recent memory. The Ingrid Wells comparisons are probably natural given her playmaking ability and short stature, but the elder Corboz has a little more punch in front of goal. With the other Corboz, Rachel on the right wing and joined by Grace Damaska and Audra Ayotte if the club holds with their lineup from the Big East Tournament final. When the Hoyas are on all cylinders, they’re capable of blasting teams to the moon with offense. But matches like the Big East Tournament final loss show what can happen on a bad day. West Virginia’s not an average Big East team either, meaning a bad day is probably going to be the last one of the season for the Hoyas.
West Virginia’s Got Injury Worries Too…
Kate Schwindel. Kate Schwindel. Kate Schwindel. A thigh injury knocked her out early from the Big XII Tournament final and has aggravated her for parts of the season as well. But without her, WVU’s just not the same team in front of goal. The club has some serious weapons without her though if it comes to that, though Schwindel’s loss would certainly be felt. Micaela Abam would likely be her natural replacement having won Newcomer of the Year honors. Four goals in league play is a nice return for a freshman, and Abam’s probably going to be able to pick up the torch from Schwindel sooner rather than later. Add in Kailey Utley and Amandine Pierre-Louis up top and Ashley Lawrence in midfield, and you’ve got a handful of weapons that should be able to cause major problems for any opponent. But Schwindel is crucial, and her health will be key to a run to the College Cup.
Is This The Year The Defense Carries Them To The Top? Or At Least Doesn’t Cost Them?
Signals mixed. Do you really believe that the club has moved past the early week jitters that saw them concede three to Penn State and two to Missouri and Duke? For a club with Kadeisha Buchanan at the back, the defense has leaked goals a bit too much for comfort, though they’ve improved by leaps and bounds lately. The strength of this side is clearly at the other end of the pitch, and other than Buchanan, there aren’t any standout defenders on the backline. Buchanan more than makes up for a lot of that though being one of the nation’s very best center-backs. Hannah Steadman has been solid in goal though she’s not going to mask failings if the backline can’t keep it together against top competition.
Is This The Year Nikki Izzo-Brown Sheds The Tag of Best Coach To Not Get to A College Cup?
If not now, when? Well, it’s not that dire, as the club has a long pipeline to Canada to keep bringing in top prospects, and Buchanan’s going to be around for a few years yet, but this is a great opportunity for the Mountaineers. There aren’t any juggernauts on their side of the bracket, and though it’s going to take some great efforts on the road to get to the Final Four, there’s no reason why WVU can’t get there if they play to their talent. The offense is diverse and talented, while Buchanan covers up a lot of deficiencies on the backline and can mark the nation’s best out of games. But much rests on Schwindel’s balky thigh. The path to the College Cup is especially rough for WVU, and too long without their star at full strength could send the Mountaineers home sooner than expected.