Duke’s Tara Campbell Will Be Vital For Any Upset Hopes on Friday
(2) Boston College vs (3) West Virginia (7:00) – Two programs eternally on the cusp of breaking into the national elite have perhaps their best shot at reaching the College Cup in front of them in a clash of former Big East rivals in Newton on Friday night. This was supposed to be Boston College’s year, and it still might be, after a roller coaster season has seen the Eagles soar high once more in the Big Dance, beating back challenges from two very game opponents. BC has proven to be one of the country’s best teams when on their game. When not on their game, Alison Foley’s side are vulnerable to the challenges of teams entirely like the ones remaining in this year’s NCAA Tournament. West Virginia has done it with hard work, steel, and graft, turning around their season after an unimpressive non-conference season. The Mountaineers lifted another piece of silverware, the Big East Tournament title, despite being very much a team that is more than the sum of their parts. WVU brushed aside the upset threat of Penn State, and Nikki Izzo-Brown’s team travels to Newton with the reality of a possible College Cup berth very much in play thanks to their strong play and some good fortune in the bracket around them. Whoever wins this match will have home advantage next weekend and will be prohibitive favorites to make their first trip to the College Cup. Expect a tight and cagey match featuring two sides with much on the line in this showdown.
(3) Oklahoma State vs Duke (8:00) – Surprise, surprise, the unseeded Duke Blue Devils are again exceeding expectations and national rankings as they survive to play another weekend after another giant killing expedition in defeating Florida in Gainesville. The Blue Devils are likely pointing towards 2007?s magical run to the Elite Eight as an unseeded team for a little inspiration. Then, Duke got a little bit of a break in facing an equally unseeded Indiana side. No such luck this year as the Blue Devils travel west to face an Oklahoma State team determined to break into the national elite. OSU were another side tipped for being an upset victim last weekend but did well to come back and thwart a challenge from a very tough Oregon State team. The Cowgirls will look to continue their march towards an unlikely spot in the College Cup with keeper Adrianna Franch set to continue to star. Franch will find a worthy adversary in opposite number Tara Campbell, who has shined for Duke in goal in 2010 thus far.
(1) Stanford vs UCLA (10:00) – Prohibitive National Title favorites Stanford continue their postseason run on Friday night with a potentially tricky tie against Sydney Leroux led UCLA. The Bruins were put to the sword by their state rivals in the regular season, with the Card holding Leroux to a measly one off-target shot on the afternoon in Los Angeles. UCLA will be hoping for a better return in the rematch, with Leroux finally rounding into some decent form as the season concludes. The Bruins will still miss Jenna Richmond in attack though, the freshman looking at a spell on the sidelines through injury. Christen Press will surely enjoy another shot at the Bruins defense, having already scored once (from the spot) against Stanford’s Pac-10 rivals this season. Stanford spread the wealth last weekend, with goals coming from a variety of sources, undoubtedly giving Cardinal fans heart going into the business end of the tournament. The Card are worthy favorites in this rivalry, but Leroux’s presence and UCLA’s tournament experience means that this will hardly be a walkover.