Conference Chaos: All You Need to Know About NCAA Women’s Soccer
Tournament time is fast approaching in the NCAA. For Women's Soccer, the most exciting time of play starts this weekend, October 29 with the five Power Five conferences kicking off their tournaments. [The Pac-12 does not have a conference tournament]
Here is a look at each conference and what matches to look out for.
Athletic Coast Conference (ACC)
Florida State claimed the regular season ACC crown with an undefeated year. The Seminoles finished with a conference record of 9-0-1 and an overall record of 14-0-1. Onyi Echengi leads the team with 11 goals. The Seminoles have scored 50 goals this season and only conceded 12, with little signs of letting up. They await the winner of No. 4 UNC versus No. 5 Pitt.
UNC did not lose this season but dropped points in five games, as they posted a 5-0-5 record in conference play and a 10-0-8 record overall. Pitt has been impressive this season, as they are led by Sarah Schupansky and Samiah Phiri who both have ten goals this season. Pitt has posted a 6-3-1 conference record and a 13-4-1 overall record.
Notre Dame takes the two seed with a conference record of 7-1-2 and an overall record of 11-2-4. The Fighting Irish are having one of their best seasons in recent years. Leah Klenke has been on fire for the Irish and is second in the conference in assists with 10. They await the winner of No. 3 Clemson and No. 6 Wake Forest. Wake Forest is back in the tournament for the first time in 11 years.
The Demon Deacons make their return to the tournament after posting a conference record of 4-2-4 and an overall record of 10-2-5. The third-seeded Clemson Tigers were 7-2-1 in conference this season and 11-2-4 overall. They are led by Makenna Morris who has eight goals this season.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
The matchup to watch in the opening rounds of the ACC tournament is the 4-5 match between UNC and Pitt.
Both teams are strong offensively and defensively. Pitt has scored 49 goals this season while UNC has put up 38. With these numbers, we can hope to see a goal-scoring affair in a competitive match-up.
The game is on October 29 at 8 pm ET on the ACC Network.
Nebraska and Michigan State both claimed a share of the regular season Big Ten title, as they finished with identical 7-1-2 records. Michigan State takes the top seed in the Big Ten tournament.
The Spartans are led by Jordyn Wickes and Bella Najera who both have seven goals so far this season. Michigan State will take on No. 8 Iowa. Iowa finished their conference season with a record of 3-4-3 and an overall record of 9-4-4. Iowa has posted the second most shutouts this season with nine so Michigan State’s offense will need to be firing on all cylinders against the Hawkeyes.
Nebraska has the nation’s leading goalscorer on their side in Eleanor Dale. The forward has had a season to remember with 23 goals scored. Nebraska’s offense is one of the hottest in the country and it’s going to take a big effort from seventh-seeded Ohio State to be able to slow them down. The Buckeyes finished the season with a conference record of 5-4-1 and an overall record of 9-6-2. The Buckeyes have had an up-and-down season but have played Nebraska closer earlier this year.
The final four teams in the Big Ten Tournament include third-seeded Wisconsin after a decision-day defeat of Penn State. Wisconsin finished the season with a conference record of 7-2-1 and an overall record of 12-3-3. The Badgers are led by Emma Jaskaniec in her return from an ACL injury that took her out for the final three regular season games and post-season play last year. Jaskaniec repeated her same numbers from last season, with ten goals and four assists. The Badgers are taking on sixth-seeded Rugters who finished the season with a conference record of 5-4-1 and an overall record of 9-6-3.
The 4-5 matchup in the Big Ten will be Penn State with the fourth seed and Indiana with the fifth. Penn State finished the season with a conference record of 6-1-3 and an overall record of 12-1-4. Indiana finished the season with a conference record of 6-2-2 and an overall record of 12-2-4.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
The matchup to watch in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament is the 3-6 matchup between Wisconsin and Rutgers.
The two teams have put up very similar stats and it is bound to be a very competitive match. The Badgers have a well-rounded team but can struggle with offensive production. If the Scarlet Knights are up to take advantage of that and get the ball past Erin McKinney in goal for Wisconsin, that’s their key to finding an upset. For Wisconsin, they need to find the spaces where Jaskaniec is open but not force her the ball.
No. 6 Rutgers will be at No. 3 on Sunday, October 29 at 3:30 pm ET on B1G+.
Texas Tech claimed their first-ever regular season Big 12 Championship this season, finishing with a conference record of 8-0-2, and an overall record of 14-0-4. The team is led by Ashleigh Williams and Alex Kerr who have 14 and 11 goals scored on the season, respectfully. The Red Raiders have only allowed eight goals this season, a huge help in claiming the Big 12 regular season title.
Behind them in the standings is Big 12 newcomer, BYU. BYU joined the Big 12 this season after spending 12 seasons in the West Coast Conference. As one of the nation’s top teams recently, this provided an extra level of challenge for the Cougars but they stepped up to the challenge. BYU finished the season with a conference record of 7-0-3 and an overall record of 14-1-3. They are led by scoring trio, Erin Bailey, Brecken Mozingo, and Allie Fryer who all have nine goals this season. As the number one and two seeds in the tournament, both of these teams have first-round byes.
Texas Tech will play the winner of No. 8 Baylor and No. 9 Cincinnati. Baylor finished the season with a 4-4-2 conference record and a 9-6-3 overall record. Cincinnati finished the season with a 2-3-5 conference record and a 3-7-7 overall record.
BYU will play the winner of No. 7 Oklahoma State and No. 10 Oklahoma. Oklahoma State finished the season with a conference record of 5-5 and an overall record of 12-7. Oklahoma finished the season with a conference record of 3-5-2 and an overall record of 7-9-2.
The other four teams in the tournament all received first-round byes, alongside Texas Tech and BYU. Starting with No. 3 TCU: the Horned Frogs finished the season with a conference record of 6-2-2 and an overall record of 10-5-3. TCU is not an incredibly high-scoring team, with only 26 goals found this season but they have only let 18 past them on the other end of the field. They will play No. 6 UCF. UCF finished the season with a 5-4-1 conference record and a 9-6-1 overall record.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
The match-up to watch in the opening rounds of the Big 12 Tournament is the 4-5 matchup. We will see No. 4 Texas battle No. 5 West Virginia. West Virginia is the defending Big 12 Tournament Champion having defeated TCU in the final after taking out a Texas team that was the top seed last season.
West Virginia has had a strong season again this year, posting a 5-3-2 record in conference and 7-7-4 overall. They are led by Taylor White who has nine goals this season. For Texas, they will look to keep the scoring going, having outscored their opponents 59-19 this season. They posted a 6-3-1 conference record and a 12-4-2 overall record. Keep an eye on Lexi Missimo who has 20 goals this season in 18 games. Trinity Byers also poses a threat to this West Virginia team with 15 goals this season. Kayza Massey of West Virginia will certainly have her hands full but she has posted the second-most shutouts in the conference, with eight.
No. 4 Texas and No. 5 West Virginia will face off on Monday, October 30 at 12:30 pm ET on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.
Southeastern Conference (SEC)
Arkansas clinched their fourth regular season SEC champions title in the last five seasons with a win over Mississippi State on October 27. Arkansas finished the season with a conference record of 8-1-1 and an overall 12-3-2. The Razorbacks are led by Bea Franklin who has seven goals and seven assists this season. The Razorbacks are the No. 1 seed in the tournament and will await the winner of No. 8 Auburn and No. 9 Tennessee. Auburn posted a conference record of 3-4-3 and an overall record of 7-6-5 this season, while Tennessee also posted a 3-4-3 conference record with an 8-5-4 overall record.
On the opposite side of the bracket, Georgia takes the second seed in the tournament bracket, despite finishing fifth overall in the conference, thanks to clinching the SEC East division title.
Georgia finished the season with a record of 4-3-3 in conference and 8-4-5 overall. They are led by Summer Denigan in scoring who has five goals this season. They await the winner of No. 7 Kentucky and No. 10 LSU. Kentucky posted a 3-3-4 record in conference and a 9-3-5 record overall this season. LSU has a 3-5-2 record in conference and 8-7-3 overall.
At the three seed is South Carolina who are the defending SEC Tournament champions, having defeated Alabama in the final last season. South Carolina did not lose a conference game this season, but instead won five and drew five, posting a 5-0-5 record in conference and 11-1-6 overall. South Carolina is led by Catherine Barry who has scored nine goals in 18 games this season. The Gamecocks’ defense has been a large part of their success, only allowing eight goals in all games this season. The Gamecocks will play the six seed which is Texas A&M. The Aggies finished the season with a record of 4-3-3 in conference and 8-6-4 overall.
Mississippi State takes the fourth seed with a record of 5-3-2 in conference and 10-4-4 overall. They will play the fifth seed which is held by Alabama. The Crimson Tide posted a 5-4-1 conference record with an 11-4-4 overall record.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
The game to keep your eye on in the SEC conference tournament is the 3-6 matchup between South Carolina and Texas A&M.
As the defending champions, South Carolina will be looking to retain their title while the Aggies are upset-minded. The Aggies have posted the most shots of any team in the SEC this season with 333, which is nearly 50 more than the next team. The Aggies average about 19 shots per game and have scored 41 goals this season. South Carolina defense’s will have to be ready but has proven itself over and over again this season with 11 shutouts this season.
The two teams will face off at 3:30 pm ET on the SEC Network.