Category archive: Michigan State Spartans
Fresh off scoring the game-winning goal in Notre Dame's 2-1 win against Marquette, senior Amanda Clark held the hardware signifying her place on the all-tournament team. Forced out of the game after a first-half injury, teammate Rose Augustin stood nearby with her arm in a sling, protecting a possible shoulder separation.
Conference tournament title No. 11 didn't come easily for a team that lost numerous key seniors from last season's national finalist, lost the first of many current players to injury before its first game this season and lost the first game in its new stadium by six goals.
"This team's made huge strides since that point," Notre Dame coach Randy Waldrum said of a 6-0 loss at home to North Carolina in September. "We've really, really turned the corner. And I feel like we're finally playing the way Notre Dame can play, so I'm real confident about the way we're going into the postseason tournament. It's been difficult because we've done this with a lot of injuries."
It's also done it with a pair of forwards as good as any in the nation, Melissa Henderson and Lauren Fowlkes, who combined for the first goal Sunday. But as the season progressed, it also did it with players such as Clark, a stalwart defensive midfielder for much of her career, filling whatever role the flow of a game required.
"It seems like they've all found a way to do it at the right time," Waldrum said. "It was Amanda today with the big goal to get the winner. It was a defender [Jessica Schuveiller] Friday night to do it against St. John's, and it just seems like we've kind of had that."
And so, as is Notre Dame's way, November rolls on with the promise of more soccer.
Notre Dame can rest easy. For many more teams, the remaining hours until Monday's NCAA tournament selection (ESPNews, 8 p.m. ET) will be a time of tension, apprehension and occasionally hopeful anticipation. Here's one prediction for how things unfold. The numbers included for bubble teams are far from the only factors the selection committee considers, but they annually prove a good cheat sheet.
Automatic: Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Boise State, Boston University, Central Michigan, Colgate, Davidson, Dayton, Denver, Harvard, High Point, Illinois State, IUPUI, Kennesaw State, Loyola (Md.), Memphis, Monmouth, Murray State, North Carolina, Northern Arizona, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Penn State, Portland, San Diego State, South Carolina, Southeastern Louisiana, Stanford, UC Santa Barbara, UNC-Wilmington, Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Projected first 30 at-large teams: Auburn, Boston College, BYU, California, Central Florida, Connecticut, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Marquette, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio State, Oregon State, Purdue, Rutgers, Santa Clara, St. John's, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Washington, Washington State, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Last Four In:
Record: 12-6-2 (5-2-0 in WCC)
No. 43 RPI
5-5-1 vs. RPI top 100
2-3-1 vs. RPI top 50
Key results: Beat Rutgers, Santa Clara; tied UCLA
Momentum: 6-3-1 in past 10 games
Record: 12-5-3 (5-3-2 in Big Ten)
No. 42 RPI
5-5-3 vs. RPI top 100
3-4-1 vs. RPI top 50
Key results: Beat Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana; tied Illinois
Momentum: 5-3-2 in past 10 games
Record: 8-8-4 (4-4-2 in ACC)
No. 38 RPI
5-8-3 vs. RPI top 100
3-7-3 vs. RPI top 50
Key results: Beat Auburn, Miami, Virginia Tech; tied Florida State, Wake Forest, LSU
Momentum: 4-4-2 in past 10 games
Record: 11-4-4 (4-4-2 in Big Ten)
No. 56 RPI
4-4-3 vs. RPI top 100
3-3-1 vs. RPI top 50
Key results: Beat Penn State, Ohio State, Minnesota; tied Purdue
Momentum: 4-4-2 in past 10 games
First four out:
Record: 12-6-2 (8-2-1 in Conference USA)
No. 32 RPI
5-6-1 vs. RPI top 100
1-3-0 vs. RPI top 50
Key results: Beat Washington State; tied Kansas
Momentum: 6-3-1 in past 10 games
Record: 12-8-2 (4-6-0 in Big 12)
No. 52 RPI
4-6-1 vs. RPI top 100
3-2-1 vs. RPI top 50
Key results: Beat San Diego, Arizona State, Pepperdine, Missouri; tied Colorado College
Momentum: 4-5-1 in past 10 games
Record: 10-7-2 (2-6-2 in Big Ten)
No. 36 RPI
4-7-2 vs. RPI top 100
1-6-1 vs. RPI top 50
Key results: Beat Florida, Michigan State; tied Illinois
Momentum: 2-6-2 in past 10 games
Record: 16-3-2 (9-0-2 in Atlantic 10)
No. 53 RPI
2-3-1 vs. RPI top 100
0-1-1 vs. RPI top 50
Key results: Beat William & Mary, NC State; tied Dayton
Momentum: 7-1-2 in past 10 games
Record: 9-7-3 (2-6-1 in Pac-10)
No. 37 RPI
5-6-3 vs. RPI top 100
3-6-1 vs. RPI top 50
Key results: Beat San Diego State, Oregon, Oregon State; tied Virginia
Momentum: 3-6-1 in past 10 games
The Pac-10 and West Coast Conference, demonstrating that coast's admirable ability to take life at a more leisurely pace, don't start conference play for another couple of weeks. But putting those two leagues aside for the moment, how do things look elsewhere?
Sadly, Neil Patrick Harris wasn't available to host, so you're stuck with me.
Early test: Boston College at Florida State, Sunday
Is North Carolina vulnerable after Sunday's 0-0 tie against Auburn? Don't bet on it -- the only two goals the Tar Heels have allowed all season came opening night at the end of a 7-2 rout against UCLA on a sloppy field. But this game in Tallahassee will be a showdown of perhaps the two teams best equipped to challenge the defending champs. After seeing the Eagles on Sunday, I'd put a midfield of Gina DiMartino, Julia Bouchelle and Kristen Mewis up against any group out there.
September surprise: Easily Maryland, which has a 1-0 win against Santa Clara to validate an 8-0-0 start. The Terrapins actually get first crack at the Seminoles, as they'll visit Tallahassee on Thursday.
Early test: Kansas at Oklahoma State, Sunday
The Jayhawks got off to a fast start last season but finished under .500 in conference play, including a 1-3-1 record away from Lawrence. Oklahoma State is the defending conference champion but dropped its conference opener against Colorado (the lone Big 12 game played thus far). Texas A&M still seems like the class of the league, especially after beating Portland 3-1 this past weekend, but Sunday's game in Stillwater is a chance for the Jayhawks to show they're a real challenger and the Cowgirls to show they're not ready to be deposed.
September surprise: At this point, we know more about most Big 12 teams' ability to schedule advantageously than their ability to play great soccer, but Nebraska's prolific offense -- paced by freshman Morgan Marlborough's 13 goals -- is worth noting.
Early test: Rutgers at Georgetown, Friday
Georgetown produced the most emphatic result of the first Big East weekend, drubbing Villanova 4-0 (although the Hoyas then tied Penn 3-3 on Sunday). Like Santa Clara's Jordan Angeli, Georgetown's Sara Jordan returned for a sixth year after an injury-plagued career and has helped in tangible (four goals, four assists) and intangible ways.
September surprise: Minus a lost weekend in Philadelphia (defeats to Drexel and Penn), Pitt has enjoyed a banner September, capped by a win at Ohio State and a tie against West Virginia this past weekend in Morgantown, always a tough stop for Big East teams.
Early test: Penn State at Michigan State, Sunday
The Spartans were 7-0-1 entering Sunday's 1-1 draw at Eastern Michigan, but the result raises questions, given the caliber of opponent in many of those wins. The good news is they get a shot at instant credibility against Penn State. The Nittany Lions took the opposite route early, persevering through six consecutive one-goal games, including four losses, against likely NCAA tournament teams before breezing past Boston University and James Madison.
September surprise: Indiana reached the Sweet 16 two years ago, so surprise is a little strong, but the Hoosiers, at 8-1-0, including a win against Florida, are perhaps ahead of schedule.
Early test: Georgia at LSU, Friday
Two familiar conference contenders in recent seasons open this year's conference slate. After a disappointing opening loss at home against Memphis, the Tigers have shown a lot of fight, including a 1-0 loss against North Carolina and 2-2 tie against Duke this past weekend. Georgia has played a good schedule, albeit one short on ranked opponents, and will look to return the favor after LSU beat it in Athens last season. (The Bulldogs are 14-4-0 since that loss.)
September surprise: South Carolina is the undefeated SEC team with championship aspirations, but forget the quality of the schedule and give Mississippi State full marks for an 8-0-0 start. That's more wins than in any of the past four full seasons.
The Big Ten now has changed the format of its schedule, playing doubleheaders on Wednesdays (yes, Wednesdays don't even get me started on that travesty) three or four times in a season and one game on Saturdays and Sundays. Because of this change, the Big Ten has eliminated the conference tournament.
Economic factors usually are the excuse for getting rid of these postseason tournaments, but it doesn't seem like the economy was a main factor in the Big Ten's decision. Illinois coach Terri Sullivan told IlliniHQ.com in November that the decision was not monetary: "The main reason we dropped it was to make what we feel is a better overall conference schedule for the student-athletes."
The Big Ten changed the format to extend the season and so teams could focus more on the next opponent, since teams wouldn't be playing as many games per week and travel would be easier. With that said, I'm still not sure about the purpose or whether there was something wrong with the old format, in which games were played Fridays and Saturdays with a doubleheader on Sundays.
Those were the good ol' days -- simple, intense and competitive. All the coaches' concerns -- being tired, getting rundown and missing class -- are not the things I remember most from my time in the Big Ten. The Big Ten tournaments, however, I remember vividly.
What a shame it is that the Big Ten, Pac-10 and Big West, to name a few, have decided to forgo conference tournaments. Conference tournament games are the best games of the season. How anticlimactic Big Ten league play must be now. Who doesn't want another shot at beating rivals such as Michigan or Ohio State?
I know I did.
The Big Ten tournament also was our last hoorah before NCAA regionals because otherwise, many teams would not have played tournament games since the preseason. And the tournament made for higher stakes, just like in the playoffs -- if you lose, you're in trouble. We needed the games to stay competitive.
Look at the SEC right now. Alabama has played 51 games and Florida 52. The ACC's North Carolina played 54. Northwestern has played 40 games, Michigan 45 and Ohio State 47. Because Big 10 teams play fewer games during the regular season, it would make sense to have a tournament to gain some additional experience going into the playoffs.
The league tournament also gave teams an opportunity to make the postseason when they otherwise might not have. One such case was in 2004, when Michigan State was the No. 8 seed going into the tournament. The Spartans won the whole thing and earned a berth to regionals.
I have never played in this new format, so maybe without the tournament, these teams will be just as prepared for regionals. But I know one thing for sure: None of these players will be wearing a Big Ten tournament ring.
First and foremost, senior defenseman Matt Gilroy was named the recipient of the Hobey Baker Memorial Award. He edged out BU sophomore forward Colin Wilson and Northeastern junior goalie Brad Thiessen to become the second player from BU to win the Hobey. Chris Drury won in 1998.
The 2008-09 Reebok All-America teams were also announced Friday night. The Terriers led the way with three players, including two on the first team. Michigan and Notre Dame each had two honorees on the teams.
Some notes from the selections:
• Boston University freshman goaltender Kieran Millan was named the National College Hockey Rookie of the Year, as determined by the Hockey Commissioners' Association.
• Air Force senior forward Mike Phillipich was named the Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award, also determined by the Hockey Commissioners' Association.
• Fifteen of the All-Americans are from the United States, seven from Canada and two from Sweden.
• All 10 Hobey Baker finalists were named to the All-America teams.
G: Brad Thiessen, Jr., Northeastern
D: Matt Gilroy, Sr., Boston University
D: Zach Miskovic, Sr., St. Lawrence
F: David McIntyre, Jr., Colgate
F: Viktor Stalberg, Jr., Vermont
F: Colin Wilson, Soph., Boston University
G: Alex Stalock, Jr., Minnesota-Duluth
D: Ian Cole, Soph., Notre Dame
D: Jamie McBain, Jr., Wisconsin
F: Louie Caporusso, Soph., Michigan
F: Aaron Palushaj, Soph., Michigan
F: Ryan Stoa, Jr., Minnesota
G: Zane Kalemba, Jr., Princeton
D: Maury Edwards, Soph., UMass Lowell
D: Kevin Shattenkirk, Soph., Boston University
F: Mark Arcobello, Jr., Yale
F: Jacques Lamoureux, Soph., Air Force
F: James Marcou, Soph., UMass Amherst
G: Chad Johnson, Sr., Alaska
D: Chay Genoway, Jr., North Dakota
D: Erik Gustafsson, Soph., Northern Michigan
F: Carter Camper, Soph., Miami University
F: Erik Condra, Sr., Notre Dame
F: Chad Rau, Sr., Colorado College
• Northeastern women's senior forward Missy Elumba was named the recipient of Hockey Humanitarian Award.
• Michigan State senior goalie Jeff Lerg was named the recipient of the Lowe's Senior Class Award.