Power rankings: Seminoles span globe
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Florida State coach Mark Krikorian isn't eager to share the trade secrets that enable him to draw talent from around the globe to Tallahassee. That one of the most recent arrivals gives the Seminoles a secret weapon will be more difficult to keep under wraps.
From 2007 Hermann Trophy winner Mami Yamaguchi (Japan) to Selin Kuralay (Australia), Sanna Talonen (Finland), Ines Jaurena (France) and plenty of others, Florida State has always featured one of the most diverse collections of passports in college soccer. This year is more of the same, with Icelandic internationals Dagny Brynjarsdottir and Berglind Thorvaldsdottir driving the attack and Irish international Megan Campbell starting at left back.
Campbell was the brightest light in Thursday's somewhat underwhelming 0-0 draw against Wake Forest, a game between top-10 teams that featured just 13 combined shots and a lot of stalled play in midfield. On both ends of the field, the newly arrived junior looked far more composed than the typical newcomer in an ACC debut.
"She's got a fantastic quality with the ball," Krikorian said. "Her individual defending is very good; her physical play is very good; her capacity up and down the sideline is very good. So I think that she is a very accomplished player, and she's going to continue to develop for us and develop and be a very good player for Ireland."
As an outside back, Campbell might already be one of the best in the conference. But the additional element that sets her apart is her long throw. Any ball that goes out of bounds on the sideline in the attacking third of the field becomes essentially a dangerous set piece for Florida State. Campbell doesn't just get distance on her throws; she gets distance with the velocity and low-arcing trajectory that force keepers to make quick decisions and enable teammates to generate power when they connect on headers.
"I don't know where it came from," Campbell said. "I don't practice it, either. It's just natural."
She went on to speculate that perhaps it came from playing against boys growing up in Louth in the Republic of Ireland, near the border with Northern Ireland. She also has soccer genes; West Ham United's Mark Noble is an extended relative. The truth might be that, as much as any single skill, the long throw is either part of the package out of the box or not at all.
"I don't know that all of a sudden one day you wake up and you're a little bit stronger and you have a long throw," Krikorian said. "I think it's some chemistry you have. Certainly you can increase it with some weight training and some medicine ball work and stuff like that. But I think that these kids that come in that have exceptional throw-ins, it's either you have it or you don't."
The Seminoles had a clear advantage in possession against the Demon Deacons but failed to capitalize. That came on the heels of three consecutive games in which they scored one goal. Krikorian said he was satisfied his familiar possession-oriented style of play eventually would break down opponents; his team then needed to finish chances more efficiently. In turn, the Seminoles earned a 2-1 win at Duke on Sunday, the program's first victory in Durham. But if goals don't flow from the run of play, it's nice to have Campbell and her long throw on this side of the Atlantic.
"It's much faster," Campbell said of the level of play in the ACC. "I feel much fitter; the team is much fitter; I think we work better as a team together than I have done with any other team before. It's pretty much that standard of international level right now, how fast the game is and stuff like that."
As for how Campbell came to his attention, Krikorian meandered through a few sentences when asked, then paused and acknowledged, "I did a good job of not answering the question, didn't I?" As he walked away, he instructed Campbell to follow suit if asked something similar when she spoke to the media.
Perhaps he fears others will siphon his international pipeline. Campbell doesn't need to worry. You can't copy what sets her apart.
Now, on to this week's rankings and a new team at No. 1.
1. Virginia (7-0-0, last week's ranking: 2)
Virginia is also No. 1 in the polls that matter for the first time since 1990. The Cavaliers scored at least three goals in four consecutive games just once all last season (a season, mind you, when they entered the NCAA tournament ranked No. 2). After a 3-0 win against Syracuse this past week, they have yet to score fewer than three goals in any game this season. Yes, there is a smidgen of hesitation about handing No. 1 to a team that has yet to play away from home, but a 28-3 scoring margin is what it is. The first road trip is manageable, at Boston College and Pittsburgh (Sunday, ESPN3, 1 p.m. ET), but the Cavaliers not only are winless in four trips to Boston College but have yet to score a goal in Newton, Mass. Reversing that trend would hand coach Steve Swanson career win No. 300.
2. North Carolina (7-1-0, last week's ranking: 1)
They could have won. They should have at least drawn, if not for an incorrect officiating decision. But the Tar Heels lost to Notre Dame in Chapel Hill, so here they sit. Still, North Carolina is no less of a championship contender. Of more pressing concern than the defeat is the loss of Alexa Newfield, who missed the weekend with an injury, and Amber Munerlyn, who left Sunday's game in the first minute with a facial injury. It has also been a challenging first month for Summer Green. She didn't reach 50 minutes in either of this past week's games, and two weeks ago Anson Dorrance limited her minutes against UCLA to reinforce a message about tactical responsibilities. The sophomore is a world-class talent, one of the rare college players who can control a game, and the Tar Heels are best when she is best.
3. UCLA (6-1-0, last week's ranking: 3)
It was a workmanlike win in the team's lone game this past week, a 2-0 result against San Diego State, which has fallen on hard times since the teams met in San Diego last year in the Sweet 16. Sophomore Kodi Lavrusky's goal against the Aztecs, the eventual winner, is worth a look. The weekend brings intriguing local games at Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine. Loyola Marymount and UCLA drew a season ago in Westwood. And, although the Bruins routed the Waves in 2012, they drew in their most recent visit to Pepperdine's tricky home field in 2011.
4. Stanford (5-0-1, last week's ranking: 4)
A 3-1 win at home against Iowa State offered some brief scoreboard drama after the Cyclones tied the score in the opening minute of the second half, but the Cardinal quickly pulled ahead, finished with a 31-7 edge on shots and forced 10 saves out of Iowa State keeper Maddie Jobe. Three of those shots on goal came from Chioma Ubogagu, who returned to the lineup after missing the previous weekend. Taylor Uhl scored twice and has six goals in her first six games with the Cardinal. For what it's worth, Christen Press had five goals through six games in her Hermann-winning 2010 season. Of course, she also scored a hat trick in the seventh game. After hosting Saint Mary's on Thursday, Stanford makes the short trip to Santa Clara on Sunday (ESPNU, 10 p.m. ET).
5. Notre Dame (6-1-0, last week's ranking: 7)
History will record that Notre Dame opened its ACC existence by falling behind NC State. But it will record it in very small print. After that early hiccup against the Wolfpack, Notre Dame rolled to a 3-1 win in Raleigh, then pulled off the aforementioned upset in Chapel Hill. Cari Roccaro and Morgan Andrews stole the show in the latter, but center backs Katie Naughton and Sammy Scofield were both impressive as the Tar Heels pressed for an equalizer. Similarly, Mandy Laddish teamed with Andrews and Roccaro in the midfield to give the Fighting Irish composure. The ACC usually doesn't offer much respite, but this weekend brings just a lone game at home against Syracuse.
6. Florida State (6-0-2, last week's ranking: 6)
Until Notre Dame arrived in the ACC, no conference team had taken more points off North Carolina than Florida State with its four wins and two draws (to go with 24 losses). Wednesday's game between the Seminoles and Tar Heels in Tallahassee (ESPNU, 8 p.m. ET) is an early way point in the race for a top-four seed in the NCAA tournament and the right to host a quarterfinal. Sunday's game against NC State is also available for viewing (ESPN3, 1 p.m. ET).
7. Wake Forest (6-0-1, last week's ranking: 5)
The Demon Deacons managed just three shots in 110 minutes against Florida State this past Thursday, so it's fair to think they had some pent-up frustrations to take out on Miami on Sunday. Katie Stengel scored 137 seconds into the game against the Hurricanes; Riley Ridgik scored twice; and the team managed a season-best 4-0 win. Ridgik already has four goals. A season ago, Stengel was the only player to score more than five. The bad news, other than the amount of possession ceded in the 0-0 draw against the Seminoles, was that Rachel Nuzzolese left Thursday's game with an injury and didn't play Sunday. A gifted talent, she had been playing some of her best soccer recently.
8. Penn State (6-1-1, last week's ranking: NR)
No, Penn State didn't make life easy for itself on a road swing through Oklahoma. The Nittany Lions spotted Oklahoma State two goals this past Friday, then scored four unanswered to get the win. Sunday, they ceded the tying goal at Tulsa with less than five minutes to play but were rescued by a goal from Maya Hayes in the 89th minute for a 3-2 win. Conceding four goals on the trip (and 13 in eight games this season) is worrisome, but there is a lot of offense available to cover up mistakes. Three consecutive home games ease the transition to Big Ten play.
9. Portland (5-1-1, last week's ranking: NR)
This time, the home team came up with three second-half goals Sunday at Merlo Field. A week after losing its grip on a 2-0 halftime lead at home against Wake Forest and eventually losing the game, Portland shook off a halftime deficit against Missouri and came up with a 3-2 win. That was a must-have result, not so much because the SEC team is likely to be a great RPI boost but because the Pilots have just one more home game between now and Oct. 19. Micaela Capelle finished the weekend, which also included a win against Nevada, with two goals and an assist.
10. Denver (7-0-0, last week's ranking: NR)
A soccer season isn't the most important thing happening in Colorado at the moment, as evidenced by Sunday's game between Denver and Colorado being moved to the former team's field because of flooding issues in Boulder, but the Pioneers are rolling. They earned a 3-0 win against the Buffaloes behind two goals and an assist from Kristen Hamilton, who has six goals and five assists in seven games as she pushes for All-America accolades. The Summit League is going to take a heavy toll on Denver's RPI, so it needs a clean sweep of four consecutive nonleague road games -- against TCU and Nebraska this week and BYU and UC Santa Barbara the next week.
Next five: Florida, Baylor, Kentucky, Georgetown, Duke
Ten games to watch this week (rankings from NSCAA Top 25)
• No. 1 Virginia at Boston College
• No. 2 Stanford at No. 22 Santa Clara
• No. 5 North Carolina at No. 3 Florida State
• No. 4 UCLA at Pepperdine
• No. 18 Duke at No. 6 Wake Forest
• No. 6 Wake Forest at No. 21 Maryland
• UCF at No. 10 Georgetown
• No. 12 California at No. 22 Santa Clara
• No. 17 South Carolina at Georgia
• No. 20 Texas A&M at Tennessee