It didnt come as any surprise when three of the final four womens soccer teams in the NCAA tournament hailed from the ACC. In fact, it might have been a bigger surprise that a fourth, North Carolina, was missing from the College Cup played in its own backyard in Cary.
After all, the three ACC teams at WakeMed Soccer Park were all No. 1 seeds, as four of the top five seeds overall in the tournament were there.
But it certainly raised some eyebrows when three ACC teams advanced last weekend to the mens College Cup, which will be played in the Philadelphia suburb of Chester, Pa., beginning Friday at PPL Park.
Virginia, seeded eighth, is the biggest underdog in the final group but benefited from playing every NCAA tournament match at home. Connecticuts upset of No. 1 UCLA on penalty kicks gave the Cavaliers the home field last Friday, and they capitalized with a 2-1 victory over the Huskies.
It will be the Cavaliers 11th trip to the College Cup. They hadnt been since winning the 2009 championship, their sixth overall.
Third-seeded Notre Dame, the top seed remaining, earned its first College Cup appearance with a 2-1 victory Saturday over Michigan State. And the third ACC team, fifth-seeded Maryland, reeled off its 10th win in a row with a 2-1 decision on the road against fourth-seeded California, avenging an early-season loss. Its the 13th College Cup for the Terrapins, who have won the title three times, most recently in 2008.
Completing the field will be seventh-seeded New Mexico, which ousted second-seeded Washington, also on the road, 1-0. The Lobos are going to the College Cup for the second time.
Only Notre Dame was the top seed in its region (the mens top seeds are ranked Nos. 1-16). Maryland, New Mexico and Virginia were the second-highest seeds in their respective regions.
UVa also earned the distinction of having both its mens and womens teams make the College Cup this year, the first time thats happened since North Carolina did it in 2009.
Notre Dame and New Mexico play at 5 p.m. Friday, followed at 7:30 p.m. by the third meeting this season between UVa and Maryland. They tied 3-3 in the regular season at Charlottesville, and the Terps took a 1-0 victory in the ACC tournament championship game at Germantown, Md.
Return to WakeMed: WakeMed Soccer Park will be the venue for two upcoming College Cups as well. The 2014 mens tournament will be there Dec. 12-14, and the womens tournament returns Dec. 4-6, 2015.
It looks like Florida State coach Mark Krikorian will get his wish. Last week at the womens College Cup, Krikorian remarked that he wouldnt mind seeing the event played in Florida, where it had never ventured previously. Three of the next four will be in the Sunshine State: Fort Lauderdale in 2014, and Orlando in 2016 and 2017.
The other three mens cup sites will be Kansas City (2015), Houston (2016) and Philadelphia (2017).
Gutsy move: Virginia coach George Gelnovatch deserves some credit for a coaching move he made that has rewarded him with his fourth trip as a head coach to the College Cup. Back on Nov. 8, the Cavaliers coach started Calle Brown at goalkeeper in the season finale against Boston College. At the time it looked like a courtesy start for a senior, who in three years had played in only one game, 37 minutes of mop-up duty in a rout a month earlier.
It wasnt. Gelnovatch had seen that sophomore Jeff Gal, the Creighton transfer, was struggling and decided to make a change. Brown responded with shutouts of BC and Wake Forest, the latter in the first round of the ACC tournament. Brown saved two penalty kicks in a shootout as the Cavaliers advanced past Notre Dame in the ACC semis. An own goal gave Maryland a 1-0 victory in the ACC title game, but the Cavaliers then dispatched St. Johns 2-0, Marquette 3-1 and UConn 2-1 in the NCAAs.
The 6-foot-5, 227-pound Brown the biggest goalkeeper weve ever had, according to Gelnovatch has a 0.77 goals-against average as well as three solo shutouts. Brown has one year of eligibility remaining and reportedly hasnt decided yet whether he will return to the program for a fifth year.
Anasi gets call: Duke senior defender Natasha Anasi is one of 24 players selected for the weeklong U.S. Under-23 Womens National Team training camp, which gets underway Saturday in Sunrise, Fla. Anasi, who shares a Duke record of playing in 97 career matches with fellow senior Laura Weinberg, was the 2011 ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
Other ACC players in the camp are goalkeeper Kelsey Wys and defender Kassey Kallman of Florida State, midfielder Danielle Colaprico and defender Emily Sonnett of Virginia, and forward Kealia Ohai of UNC, plus three members of the UCLA team that won the NCAA championship last weekend in Cary midfielders Sarah Killion, Samantha Mewis and Jenna Richmond.
The U-23 team is coached by Virginias Steve Swanson, who last year led the U.S. to the gold medal in the U-20 World Cup in Japan. The U.S. U-20 team will work out concurrently at Sunrise and scrimmage the older team during the week. The U-20 squad includes UNC forwards Summer Green and Amber Munerlyn, N.C. State forward Jackie Stengel, Virginia goalkeeper Morgan Stearns and forward Makenzy Doniak, and Notre Dame defenders Kaite Naughton and Cari Roccaro and midfielder Moragn Andrews.
Wolfpack gets transfers: N.C. State womens coach Tim Santoro has added two transfer students to his roster for the spring. Alexa Allen is a redshirt sophomore from Buford, Ga. As a freshman at Auburn, the 5-foot-8 forward scored three goals and three assists.
Jenna Kalwa, from Pennington, N.J., will be a junior at N.C. State. The 5-5 defender-midfielder spent two seasons at Penn State, playing in eight games as a freshman and four as a sophomore.