The Arizona State women’s soccer team (9-7-3) will begin the NCAA College Cup Tournament at the University of California at Irvine (17-2-2) at 8:30 p.m. MT Friday.
Also in the bracket are No.4 seed Wake Forest (12-7-3) and San Diego (11-7-2), who will play at 6 p.m. Friday. The winners will meet in the second round at 3 p.m. MT Sunday. From there, the advancer will face the survivor between top-seeded Portland (18-1-1), UTSA, Washington, and Oklahoma. The College Cup will be Dec. 3-5 in Cary, N.C. The other top seeds are Stanford (18-0-2), Maryland (17-2-2) and two-time defending champion North Carolina (17-2-2).
The Sun Devils and Anteaters met Aug. 21, 2009, in Tempe, with ASU winning 2-0 on goals from Alexandra Elston and Bianca Doller.
“I think it’s going to be a great matchup,” UC Irvine coach Scott Juniper said. “Our team is a long way from where we were last year (when it lost to ASU). The players are not surprised if they beat anybody.”
The Anteaters rolled through the regular season after a 2-1 loss to Seattle Aug. 29. They beat Oregon State 1-0, tied California 2-2 in Berkeley, and went undefeated in the Big West Conference until falling to Long Beach State 1-0 in the league championship game.
The key player for the Anteaters is 5-foot-6 senior forward Tanya Taylor, who has 10 goals and nine assists for 29 points.
“She’s been very dynamic for us,” Juniper said. “Every team we played has a different play for Tanya. She’s really impressed me with how she deals with different types of pressure.”
CoCo Goodson is second for UCI with eight goals, followed by sophomore forward Mar Rodriguez and junior forward Lexi Kopf, who both have six. The goalkeeper is 5-foot-9 senior Danielle de Seriere.
Karin Volpe leads ASU in scoring with nine goals, Elston has five, and both Sierra Cook and Devin Marshall have eight points on the year.
“Coach (Kevin) Boyd has done a great job,” Juniper said. “They’ll fight for every ball.”
Seven teams from the Pacific-10 Conference made the tourney, one fewer than the leading Atlantic Coast Conference: ASU, Stanford, Washington, UCLA, California, USC, and Oregon State. Long Beach State (14-5-2) is sole other team from the Big West and plays Santa Clara. Thirty conferences compose the automatic bids, with 34 at-large. The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference is the only basketball-sponsoring league that does not participate in women’s soccer.
ASU finished 3-5-1 in the league, just shy of the team goal of finishing .500.
“This time in the season,” Boyd said after Sunday’s 3-0 loss to UCLA, “there’s a certain amount of mental fatigue that comes on in early October, and when you get to the end of the year, there is the excitement of postseason that gives you a new energy, and our team struggles to get through some of that emotional fatigue.”
That UCLA loss occurred less than 48 hours after a remarkable 3-0 win over USC that probably put the Sun Devils in the tournament.
“We just need to bring who we are,” Elston said after the UCLA loss.