Rutgers 1 (Filigno 101′) – 0 Ohio State [aet]
Rutgers used a battling effort along with a Jonelle Filigno goal in the second half of extra time to condemn ten-man Ohio State to their second defeat of the weekend. The Canadian international posted up the OSU defense before spinning and slashing right to create room for a shot across goalkeeper Rachel Middleman’s body and into the corner of the goal. The Buckeyes had spent the first half largely on top, with Tiffany Cameron and Lauren Granberg both coming close, the former having a shot cleared off the line by Tricia DiPaolo in the nineteenth minute. The turning point essentially came late in regulation, when reserve goalkeeper Rachel McVicker hauled down Filigno after the Canadian had broken free from the OSU defense and was clear on goal. From there, the impetus was with the home side in extra time, and they made their numerical advantage count early in the second half of the extra frames. This was a great win for Rutgers, who were second best early and were seeing Filigno marked out of the game until extra time. She’d come alive in extra time though and made the biggest difference in the end. If Filigno keeps scoring, this Rutgers club can win a lot of games this year, but the defense was just as impressive on this weekend, keeping a pair of clean sheets. The next two games are winnable, potentially setting up a huge road clash with Texas A&M in College Station that could go a long way in sealing an NCAA Tournament spot for Rutgers.
It’s not time to panic in Columbus, but there are some serious concerns with this OSU team if the first weekend of play is any indicator. While by all accounts they played better on Sunday than in the loss to Hofstra in the opener, the lack of cutting edge in front of goal continues to be alarming for the Buckeyes. The club is trying Lauren Granberg, sometimes a defender, up front, but she had little luck, along with Tiffany Cameron, who was supposed to be the club’s outlet for goals this season. If that wasn’t enough to worry about, OSU’s goalkeeping problems don’t appear to have gotten better in the short-term. Lori Walker appears to have settled on a rotation of Middleman and McVicker beginning with this contest, but that’s obviously out the window for the moment with McVicker suspended for the Northeastern game. It will certainly be interesting to see if the rotation survives at the next opportunity to employ it, against Maryland next Sunday. Meanwhile, the club certainly can’t overlook that Northeastern match on Friday. Taking anyone for granted at 0-2-0 isn’t a luxury OSU can afford.
Illinois State 1 (Tejada PK 22′) – 1 (Breece 30′) Illinois
Illinois State showed their credentials in front of a school record crowd in Normal, as they played Big Ten side Illinois to a standstill in a captivating Sunday afternoon matinee. Though the Redbirds were forced into plenty of defending early, it would be they who ended up taking the lead halfway through the first period. Lethal weapon Rachel Tejada was felled in the area after being played through by an Aimee Wronski pass and dispatched the penalty after dusting herself off. Illinois had forced ISU keeper Aryn Newsom into multiple saves early and finally beat the Redbirds netminder at the half-hour mark when Niki Read’s low cross was turned in by rookie Nicole Breece. After a frantic first half, the game became much more of a trench war in the second half, with the Illinois defense aiming to clamp down on Tejada, who had a much tougher time than usual up front. Both sides had their chances in the extra frames, with Illinois going close after Newsom bobbled a Marissa Holden shot before falling on it. The home side also had their chance, with rookie Abby Van Deventer blasting her opportunity into orbit. Though they’ll be disappointed not to have won, a draw against one of the Big Ten’s best is still a great result for ISU that should go a long way in proving that they’re one of the nation’s best mid-majors this season. While ISU’s offense normally catches most of the plaudits, it’s the defense which did a creditable job here, with Newsom deserving extra credit for making some fine saves to keep the score level. Though there are some tricky ties coming up in the next few weeks, there’s really no excuse for the club to drop a result from now and the matchup at Wisconsin in early September, which could be another huge game for ISU’s at-large bid hopes.
Though Illinois are probably not too thrilled with not picking up a win, by most accounts, this was a better performance from the Illini, who labored to a 1-0 win over Western Michigan in the opener. The defense, which seems to have shifted back into a four back system if the Illini game report is to be believed, did a fairly good job in keeping Tejada at bay, though she did win and convert the penalty for ISU’s lone goal. Of more concern though is Illinois’ somewhat sputtering offense. While they did force Newsom into some good saves, they also scored just one goal on twenty-six shots, a conversion rate that’s not going to cut it if they harbor ambitions of a Big Ten title. Getting Vanessa DiBernardo back in a few weeks will obviously help, but with UCLA, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest all still upcoming in non-conference play, there’s little time to work the kinks out.
Minnesota 2 (Uhl 2′, Helverson 97′) – 1 (Smith 45′) South Carolina [aet]
Minnesota struck early and then decisively, as rookie Haley Helverson delivered the Golden Gophers a golden goal towards the first half of extra time to salvage an opening weekend split. Everything seemed to be breaking Minnesota’s way after they took a second minute lead through Taylor Uhl. The move had begun when Katie Thyken had prodded a ball free from SC and delivered it to Uhl who made no mistake despite being pressured. Uhl has now scored in six straight matches, tying a program record. The home side would come close to extending their lead multiple times in the first half, but South Carolina would net a shocking equalizer a second from halftime with their only shot of the period. Lani Smith’s desperation effort from twenty-five yards out left Cat Parkhill red faced in goal, the ball squeezing through her hands and across the line. The Gamecocks would take the scoring impetus into the second half and so nearly had the winner late in the period when Coryn Bajema forced Parkhill in to a big save. The Gophers had so nearly pulled ahead after the hour mark, when Helverson’s ball towards goal was miscleared off the post by South Carolina. Helverson would end matters in extra time, with Uhl flicking on Allie Phillips’ low cross, allowing the rookie to net the match winner. If the first two matches of her tenure is any example, new Minnesota head coach Stefanie Golan is going to bring a whole lot of excitement to the Twin Cities, as her club has looked dangerous offensively, though a little lax at the back, which is a bit of a surprise given her Army teams’ reputation. In truth, this was a much better defensive effort from Friday, as the club held SC’s three listed forwards to just one combined shot on goal. On the other end of the pitch, Uhl has certainly gotten off to a great sophomore season and appears to have dangerous weapons all around her. The match against a slumping San Diego on Friday should be very winnable before a big test on Sunday afternoon against USC.
0-1-1 certainly isn’t what South Carolina wanted out of their opening weekend, and with so much pressure to put together non-conference results given the long league schedule, the heat will certainly be on in the next few weeks. Fortunately, the Gamecocks’ schedule eases up considerably from this point on, with what should be three comfortable wins sandwiching an important match against Clemson. Carolina’s offense continues to be a worry though, as the club scored just one goal on opening weekend, and that was through what sounded like a goalkeeping error. While they should find more pliable defenses available to them in the next few weeks, it’s still a somewhat ominous sign considering the strength of some of the SEC defenses they’re going to run up against.
Virginia Tech 2 (Lumpkin 5′, Butler 7′) – 0 Richmond
Virginia Tech used a quick offensive salvo near the beginning of the first half to build a two goal lead over Richmond that they would not relinquish in a comfortable win over the Spiders. VT kicked off the scoring on a move that began with Shannon Mayrose jostling towards the endline with a Richmond defender before turning and crossing into the path of Anne Lumpkin’s unchecked run. The senior would rifle the ball into the back of the net, punishing Richmond’s poor marking. The second goal would be gained in the simplest of fashions, with Andrea Young coming for Jordan Coburn’s corner and not getting there, allowing Helen Butler’s glancing header to bounce over the line. It was all the offense VT would need, as they cruised to victory, though a game Richmond tried their best to grab a goal that wasn’t coming in the second half. After a somewhat underwhelming performance on Friday against UNC Wilmington, the Hokies turned it up with a fine showing against Richmond, punishing mistakes ruthlessly early in the match and riding out a fairly simple win. Shannon Mayrose has proven last year’s form was no fluke, putting up an impressive stat line here, while the defense has also impressed, pitching two clean sheets in two matches. If the Hokies play to their potential, they should win their next four, setting up a big showdown with Illinois in Winston-Salem for Wake Forest’s tournament.
Any hopes of an upset were pretty much dashed early for Richmond, who shot themselves in the foot to conceded twice. Slow starts absolutely killed the Spiders this weekend, which is a shame, because it seems like the club played much better in each second half on Friday and Sunday. While defensive mistakes proved fatal here, it’s the lack of offense on the whole which has proved most worrisome, as the club feels the sting of being without Becca Wann. Though there aren’t any more ACC calibre opponents on the docket, that’s both a blessing and a curse, as the Spiders need some quality results to pull themselves back into the at-large bid picture. They don’t have to run the table, but they probably have to come close, though nobody can be quite sure how much of a hit their confidence took after this past weekend’s stumbles.
Florida Gulf Coast 0 – 4 (Diggs 3′, Martin 14′, Radovcic 88′, Trujic 89′) UCF
UCF used two goal flurries early and late to demolish Florida Gulf Coast in a battle of prominent Florida mid-majors. The Golden Knights would get all the offense they’d need early, with Marissa Diggs heading home from a deflected corner in the third minute of the match. Though FGCU would force Lianne Maldonado into a couple of big saves soon after, they’d give the ball away cheaply, allowing Jennifer Martin to swoop in and drill a shot from just outside the area into the upper-corner of the goal. UCF looked content to grind out a 2-0 win before Tishia Jewell’s bicycle kick hit the post, with Nicolette Radovcic burying the rebound for 3-0. Jewell would turn creator again soon after, setting up Kristina Trujic, who lobbed Danielle LeRoy from long range to seal a comprehensive victory. This was a pretty impressive performance from UCF, who jumped all over their opponents early and kept up a steady tide of shots throughout. Though things got a bit out of hand late, UCF were still clear and deserved winners and look to be in fine form at the beginning of this season. The true test of course is still to come, with a weekend against Florida State and Miami (FL) likely to tell us a lot more of where this Golden Knights’ team’s ceiling might truly be.
Unfortunately, a real gulf in class was exposed in this one for the Eagles, as they were shown up pretty bad by the C-USA powerhouse Golden Knights. FGCU is probably a better team than the result would indicate, but this was probably going to be the club’s biggest test out of conference, and they were found lacking. A Sunday matchup against Illinois State should be a nice test though, and Jim Blankenship’s team will want to put in a good display to help build some momentum for A-Sun play in September.
Colorado College 0 – 0 Colorado
Colorado College may have had more of the game, but not enough to grab more than a share of the spoils, with Colorado winning the Colorado Cup on goal differential as a result. The match, despite being an in-state rivalry, was a bit of a tepid affair offensively, as both clubs combined for just six shots on goal, including just one for the Buffs. Colorado had the ball in the goal early, with Hayley Hughes’ header off a free kick being flagged off for offside. Colorado netminder Annie Brunner would be the busier of the two keepers, being forced to foil Tiger attacks on multiple occasions. Both clubs would hit the woodwork late, but a goal wasn’t coming, leaving the teams deadlocked at 0-0. The home side will likely be very frustrated at having not found a way to win, but in the end, battling a Pac-12 side to a standstill isn’t the worst accomplishment in the world. The Tigers look like a side capable of being a real handful in C-USA play and could also be in the at-large mix should they be successful in a weekend featuring games against Utah and BYU in a few weeks’ time.
The Buffs did what they had to to win the Colorado Cup, but the stagnant offense shown in this one could hardly be assuring. The Tigers aren’t going to be anywhere near the toughest defense they’ll face this season, meaning improvement must be shown if Colorado is to be anything but filler in the Pac-12. Fortunately for Danny Sanchez and co., the next three games are all very winnable, setting up a collision with Denver in a few weeks’ time that will likely prove crucial to Colorado’s ambitions this year.