Brown's Hogue enjoys impressive weekend

September, 16, 2008

Between UCLA's clinical dismantling of Connecticut and Brown keeper Brenna Hogue's 18 saves in a 1-0 overtime upset of No. 11 Penn State, I thought Friday had provided a glimpse of the best college soccer has to offer -- in every sense of the phrase.

Only, it turns out I left before the encore.

I wasn't in Storrs on Sunday (I instead watched No. 21 Kansas, which at one time had planned to participate in the Connecticut tournament, fall in an upset at home to unranked Loyola). That turned out to be my loss, after Brown scraped out a 0-0 draw against No. 1 UCLA, despite being outshot 34-7. Even if shots have been generously awarded at Morrone Stadium this season, it's hard to mistake the run of play with a 27-shot disparity on the stat sheet. But that just makes Hogue's weekend all the more remarkable. A year after missing an entire season because of a knee injury, she came away with two clean sheets and 30 saves against two of the best offenses in the nation.

From a practical standpoint, Brown's 1-1-1 record against ranked teams should earn it top-25 consideration of its own and certainly provides a nice base for an at-large profile should it fail to win the Ivy League's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. For a team that's not especially old -- only three seniors started against UCLA -- Brown is disciplined and well organized in its own end. Even with a 6-10-1 record last season, its defense conceded just 25 goals. Now the Bears need to find some goals of their own.

But sometimes it's better to simply savor the present than fixate on the future.

As for the rest of the country, let the future fixation commence.

No. 1 UCLA (5-0-1)
The newly minted No. 1 team might be considering new travel agents after playing through a miserably wet New England night against Connecticut on Friday and piling up shots without any reward Sunday. But a relatively rare trip to the other ocean didn't do anything to diminish the Bruins.

With the disclaimer that much the same could have been said last year, not to mention several other years in recent memory, the reigning Pac-10 champions put out a lineup that looks like an all-star club. Lauren Cheney wasn't even in the Nutmeg State, instead enjoying a prearranged weekend off for rest and relaxation after a summer spent training with the U.S. Olympic team (a quarter-system school, UCLA isn't currently in session). The Bruins still showed off more world-class weapons in Kara Lang, Christina DiMartino and freshman Sydney Leroux than some conferences can claim. A mainstay of Canada's Olympic team, Lang will get her own break this week when the Bruins return home for games against New Mexico and Miami.

No. 2 Notre Dame (6-0-0)
Randy Waldrum got his start coaching high school soccer in Texas, and his second-ranked Fighting Irish offered a glimpse of just what those ties still mean in a 5-0 win at home against SMU on Friday. Allen native Kerri Hanks recorded an assist on the first of Melissa Henderson's two goals, becoming the sixth player in NCAA women's soccer history to total 60 goals and 60 assists in a career. Also a native Texan -- one of seven on the roster -- Henderson has started three of the past four games and is second on the team in goals (four).

No. 3-T Stanford (6-0-1)
Conventional wisdom holds that when two heavyweights play to a draw, the visitor has more cause for satisfaction. But when the visitor is North Carolina and the home team had only a point to show for eight prior games against the college game's Goliath, even the moral result remains a pretty even split. Kelley O'Hara's equalizer in the 87th minute Friday enabled the Cardinal to come away with a 1-1 tie against the Tar Heels. After playing seven starters all 110 minutes in that game, Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe went heavy to his bench in Sunday's 2-0 win against UNC-Greensboro.

No. 3-T USC (6-1-0)
Both Los Angeles powerhouses had to set their clocks three hours ahead this weekend, with USC making the eastward trek for games against Georgia and Clemson. Earning more than a quarter of the total minutes she's played thus far, freshman Carly Butcher saved the day against Georgia, scoring two second-half goals to erase a 2-0 halftime deficit. Fellow freshman and substitute Ashley Freyer scored the winner in the second overtime period. Sunday's game against Clemson offered more fireworks and less drama, as USC jumped out to a 3-0 halftime lead and eventually led 5-0 on its way to a 6-2 win. Amy Rodriguez scored her first goal of the season against the Tigers.

No. 5 North Carolina (5-1-1)
The Tar Heels came about three minutes from a perfect weekend, but even Stanford's late equalizer shouldn't put much of a damper on things after Anson Dorrance's team bounced back with a 5-0 rout of No. 15 Santa Clara on Sunday. North Carolina isn't quite done with its typically brutal nonconference schedule, welcoming Georgia to Chapel Hill next week before opening ACC play the following weekend.

No. 6 Portland (6-1-0)
Portland cruised to two easy wins in its own Nike Portland Invitational, finishing with more than twice as many goals (10) in shutout wins against San Diego State and Northern Arizona as its opponents had combined shots (four). Four of the seven goals against Northern Arizona came from Elli Reed and Michelle Enyeart, two players who will leave for the Under-20 World Cup later this fall, but the Pilots also had another big weekend from freshmen Danielle Foxhoven (eight goals on the season after scoring twice against San Diego State) and Charney Burk (two goals against Northern Arizona).

No. 7 Florida State (5-1-1)
Like getting caught out of the draft at Daytona, Florida State tumbled down the rankings for no greater crime than dropping a rivalry game against Florida on Sept. 7. But after bouncing back with a 3-0 win against Auburn to open the weekend, the Seminoles placed themselves in some peril with a 3-3 tie against South Carolina. Interestingly, the three goals allowed were the most by the Seminoles since a similar 3-3 September draw against an unranked Central Florida team last year. Mark Krikorian's team hasn't allowed more than three goals since a 4-0 loss against UCLA in the 2005 College Cup. Next weekend's game against Florida Gulf Coast is Florida State's last game before ACC play.

No. 8 Texas (5-0-1)
Arizona bedeviled Texas last weekend before the Longhorns came away with a 2-1 overtime win at home, but a visit from the Sun Devils proved even pricklier. In its only game of the weekend, Texas drew 0-0 against Arizona State. Next weekend features yet another Pac-10 team making the trek to Austin with the arrival of No. 20 California.

No. 9 Virginia (6-0-1)
Virginia put away two quality mid-majors in its Nike Soccer Classic tournament in Charlottesville, producing identical 2-1 results against William and Mary and Dartmouth. With two goals on the weekend, sophomore Meghan Lenczyk already has matched her total (six) from a standout freshman season. A 3-0-1 record against Georgia, Auburn, William and Mary and Dartmouth in the past two weeks is all that really counts, but it's worth noting that the Cavaliers allowed a goal in each of their past three games. That's something last season's vaunted defense didn't do until the postseason. The core remains intact with Nikki Krzysik, Alex Singer and Sarah Senty, but with keeper Chantel Jones redshirting to play in the Under-20 World Cup and defender Becky Sauerbrunn awaiting the start of her WPS career, it's a group that is carving out its own identity.

No. 10 Texas A&M (5-1-0)
In deference to Hurricane Ike, the Aggies postponed Friday's game against Princeton.

Graham Hays covers college sports for espnW, including softball and soccer. Hays began with ESPN in 1999.



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