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NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship: 2016 College Cup Recap

2016 NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Recap

The 2016 Division I Women’s Soccer Season began with more than 300 teams competing for four spots at the 2016 College Cup at WakeMed Stadium in North Carolina.  Relocated by the NCAA in response to North Carolina’s adoption of anti-LGBTQ legislation, the season ended on Sunday, December 4 at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California with USC defeating West Virginia to gain its second Division I Women’s Soccer national championship.   

For only the second time in the past 20 years, the College Cup included two first-time participants, Georgetown and West Virginia, and one second-timer, USC.   As recently as 2009, North Carolina, which rounded out the 2016 field, had won 20 of the previous 28 National Championships and been a finalist in 5 of the others.  The days of such one-team dominance are gone.  Since 2010, there have been eight first-time participants and four first-time champions in the College Cup.  In contrast, between 2000 and 2009, just four programs made College Cup debuts.

2015 Berkshire Soccer Academy Coach, Martha Thomas of UNC-Charlotte juggling 2 Duke defenders in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

The College Cup began Friday, December 4 with semifinals pitting West Virginia against North Carolina  and Georgetown against USC.   In the first game, the USC Trojans (18-4-2) defeated the Georgetown Hoyas 1-0 off a 60th minute goal by Katie Johnson.    In the second game, a goal by junior forward Michaela Abam in the 74th minute propelled West Virginia to its first-ever NCAA College Cup Final with a 1-0 victory over North Carolina.  The Mountaineers (23-1-2, 8-0) extended their unbeaten streak to 17 matches and turned in their program-record 18th shutout of the season.   

The NCAA Finals

USC scored its first goal in the second minute of Sunday’s national title game against West Virginia and tallied two more in the second half to clinch its second championship in program history and its first since 2007. Morgan Andrews opened with the quick strike to set the tone for the Trojans and Katie Johnson followed with the two late tallies to break open a 1-1 game. Somewhat improbably, USC became the first Pac-12 program to win multiple national titles, beating more familiar Stanford and UCLA to the distinction.

There were plenty of surprises and a good dose of luck on the way to the College Cup.    In one quarterfinal,  Georgetown defeated Santa Clara 1-0 after Santa Clara missed on a point-blank opportunity in the game’s final minute.  USC survived a second-round penalty shootout against Texas A&M, and West Virginia played nearly 40 minutes of overtime, gave up one lead in the final minute of regulation, survived a penalty shootout against UCLA and was outshot in a 1-0 quarterfinal win over Duke.

U-20 World Cup Influence

An important and unusual factor in this year’s College Cup was the absence of many top college players who were competing for the US in the U-20 World Cup,  which ran simultaneous with the NCAA tournament. For example, defending champion Penn State lost four players to the World Cup and fell in the second round.  Perennial power and 2010 national champion, Notre Dame, also down two players, ell in the second round, and North Carolina reached the College Cup despite being  short two world cup participants.  

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