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Archive for October 2010

NCAA, USA Women’s National Team: Because it [golden] bears repeating

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The Cross-Conference Collector has a blog entry that I have been awaiting for quite some time now. It’s no secret that I am a Cal alum — which means I get all pissy and angry when Stanford wins  — and it also means, as a women’s soccer fan, I take their team to heart. I regret that I hadn’t followed the team sooner, back when I was a tiny underclassman and the likes of Julia Schnugg roamed the pitch. (Kimberly Yokers was before my time.)

For a while the Cross-Conference Collector and I have had mild disagreements on Alex Morgan’s merits, but, as in much of life, their points are usually valid and I am mostly blinded by blue and gold. Morgan is very easy to knock over, among other things. Her lack of success at Cal is very troubling to me, even if it’s all the coach’s fault that he can’t build a program even after his predecessor left him a good recruiting class. (Need I remind my audience that McGuire’s only recruiting coups so far are three internationals and Kate Bennett. And he still can’t make anything out of it.)

This is not necessarily going to be a blog entry showering Morgan with praise. Please note that I am very hard on Morgan (and on the Cal team in general), rather like an Asian parent in fact because I want to see her (and them) excel. I sort of have to watch her through my fingers, because I’m always afraid she’s going to mess up somehow. Sure, I puff up with Cal pride every time she gets praised (which is, um, a lot these days?), and of course I get defensive and argumentative when someone criticizes her (or worse, disses her), but she can always do better. The soccer fan in me is glad that she’s getting her shot at the highest level, but in light of what one might call “abandonment” of her college team, she should be getting more out of her call-up than she’s currently getting.

I used the term “abandonment” because Cal needs Morgan, moreso then they need their other “busy with international duty” player, New Zealand’s Betsy Hassett. Hassett’s a fine player but Morgan changes games (cf. the USC game). Even when she doesn’t score, she’s an offensive intangible that helps other people score. Lauren Battung is the second highest scorer on the team right now, but her record in Morgan-less games is unimpressive. So what if “Cal wouldn’t make the Final Four anyway, it’s not like she would’ve made a difference”? Anyone who makes that argument severely undermines the dynamic of a women’s college soccer team.

You don’t know how much it hurt me (yes, ‘hurt’, stop making fun of me, assholes) to see the pictures of Morgan having an early Senior Day alone. Not only would she not be there for the rest of the season, she couldn’t have her Senior Day with her class. Kelley O’Hara did.  Christen Press (will?) did. All of her 2008 U-20 teammates did and [probably] will. Etc. and so on.

As Ruth said, “This call-up reeks of half-hearted experimentation.” I could not agree more; I was furious when I learned that Morgan was not going to play in what was a garbage game against Haiti — this is HAITI, for God’s sake. One could theorize that Pia started the “usual” out of respect for Haiti, instead of “insulting” them à la Dorrance by using “untested children” — but Morgan is not UNC’s second string. Morgan once single-handedly BEAT UNC’s second string. (By the way, Pia, why aren’t you starting Krieger? Mitts is degenerating like a neglected pumpkin after Halloween.) If Morgan’s team is crumbling without her, there had better be a good reason why she’s not there. Sitting on the sidelines in Mexico is not a good reason. FYI, the only teams that really benefit from that? Is Stanford and the Oregons.

Morgan’s absence from Berkeley would be more excusable if Pia were aggressively pursuing the development of the team with new players, but she’s clearly not. For one, Pia’s not making the most important change — which in my mind is GET RID OF CARLI LLOYD (I am not a bandwagoner on the Carli Hate Train! The evidence clearly states that Lloyd is playing like a traffic cone!). Also, if Pia were working towards upward development, more colleges might be missing players. Heck, The Mighty Christen Press might even be called up — and that call-up is every soccer pundit’s wet dream, at least the ones who pretend to know stuff about NCAA women’s soccer. (Now I’m sure Stanford would survive the NCAA Tournament without Press, but these same fans who want her called up wouldn’t have an undefeated season to boast about if she WERE gone. EITHER YOU CARE ABOUT STANFORD OR YOU DON’T, DIMWITS!) Despite everything, I know and agree with the Collectors that Morgan is not the best the youth national teams have to offer. I do want Morgan to succeed at the highest level, but this version of the USWNT is selling her short. They might as well not take her, for all that they’re not using her (up until the last China friendly and last night’s Guatemala game).

As a Cal fan, it is slightly heartening to know that Morgan herself is ambivalent when it comes to her choice. All I can hope for at this point is some proof that this call-up was worth potentially botching Megan Jesolva’s professional future in the sport. The past U-23 pool players from Cal (Laura Schott, Courtney Hooker, Nkechi Kanu, Katie Oakes) have all hung up their boots. Kimberly Yokers is the only Cal alum in the WPS, and her U-23 heyday was in 2002-2003. Despite Jesolva’s insistence that she wants to continue, I’m pessimistic. It’s true that U-23s get closer looks than their peers in the WPS Draft — and Sarah Hagen proves that attending dinky tadpole schools doesn’t preclude being noticed — but I worry for her. I really do.

Maybe I should just say it’s a Cal thing. You wouldn’t understand.

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Written by teamongolia

October 31, 2010 at 4:51 pm

NCAA, etc.: You can has search terms

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Today I would like to show you the top 10 search terms used to find this blog.

SOME people still remember Kerri Hanks exists. If you don't, you're like that fat kid yelling obscenities while getting shot at with paintballs or something.

WE MISS YOU KERRI HANKS.

Written by teamongolia

October 30, 2010 at 3:55 pm

USA Women’s National Team: A Soccer Pundit Continues to Educate Us

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In order to save money, this episode was filmed by squirrels. Dr Dibble wishes to apologize to those who suffer from motion sickness and hopes that it will not happen again.

Written by teamongolia

October 28, 2010 at 5:59 pm

NCAA, USA Women’s National Team: Musings are Interesting and Fun

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After reading this entry at the Cross-Conference Collector, I got to thinking about my own attachments in the soccer world.

While I have enjoyed playing soccer for most of my life, the United States women’s national team were the ones who actually got me to start watching it. As a pimply pre-adolescent, however, I was one of the few pony-tailed girls who didn’t watch the 1999 Women’s World Cup final, even with my peers buzzing about it and the Sports Illustrated magazine taken apart and taped to the wall of our gym locker room. Shame on my family.

I had heard about Solo-gate 2007 around the time it happened — I have to mention that I actually was in Shanghai right before the 2007 Women’s World Cup took place, and got to see the ceremony rehearsals — but I hadn’t gotten around to actually watching the USWNT on TV until the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Being a patriotic sort, I did end up watching all of the USA’s games at at competition, and was very pleased when they won the gold medal. I really was very happy.

(Sure, I was in junior high during the WUSA years, and despite the proximity of San Jose, I never saw a CyberRays game. Santa Clara and Hayward were even closer than San Jose, and yet I never went to a FC Gold Pride game. I have excuses, but I’m pretty sure none of you want to hear them. If it’s any consolation, I’m planning to become a Philadelphia Independence season ticket holder, just to support the league and all. I rag on Philadelphia but I’m still pretty glad I made the move. Here I can actively indulge in going to live games, now that I am on my own.)

I attempted to follow the three collegians on the Olympic team (Cheney, Rodriguez, and Heath) back to their college careers, but only Cheney succeeded in making me care about her team. Mostly because I quickly learned that North Carolina won everything all the freaking damn time, and USC had just won the NCAA Championship last year. UCLA was no underdog, certainly, but the Bruins had a tiny midfield dynamo who could throw her weight around with people more than a foot taller than her. To this day, Christina DiMartino is still my most favorite player because of how deceptively strong and cunning she is, despite her tiny size. UCLA was never the same without her, and I stopped caring about them when she left.

2008 was also the year I “met” these people; I don’t have an extreme preference for either Santa Clara or Portland, but I lean towards Santa Clara because I am from the Bay Area — not that location really means anything when it comes to my seething jealousy towards Stanford. I am, after all, a Cal alum, and I root for Alex Morgan mostly for that reason alone (not just because she’s hot and stuff, and is pretty good at scoring goals, you know). In any case, they pointed me to schools other than UCLA, USC, and UNC.

Now, the school I root for — and yet have no prior connection to — is Notre Dame. Notre Dame is a good example of how I start (and stop) following teams. Usually, it follows this process:

  1. My attention is drawn to a player, or players, on the team. In UND’s case, it was Kerri Hanks, Brittany Bock, and Carrie Dew — a fine triumvirate, the likes of which Notre Dame has yet to see again. Hanks in particular intrigued me, not so much because of her Hermann bling but because of unflattering rumors that I found floating around the interwebs. The hipster part of me likes an antihero, which Hanks sort of was. Also, the fact that North Carolina fans hated her sparked my intrigue into, “why, yes, I think I really like this player.”
  2. If I find other players to like on the team, then I will continue to root for that school. That would be Lauren Fowlkes (vote for her).
  3. However, if all my favorite players graduate, I will probably stop supporting the school. Fowlkes is graduating, and I have a hard time paying attention to Melissa Henderson. My hope is that Cari Roccaro follows through on her verbal to Notre Dame, because she might be just the ticket.

You’ve probably noticed that I’m very player-oriented…this shall come into discussion another time, in which U-20s will figure prominently.

Written by teamongolia

October 24, 2010 at 11:34 pm

NCAA: Christen Press’ Little Sister vs. Notre Dame

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Today I traveled to Villanova to watch them play the visiting Notre Dame Fighting Irish. This was very important to me, because I’d never seen the Irish play live before.

I admit that I don’t do too well at live games because:

  1. there’s no instant replay of goals I missed,
  2. and also there’s just way too much exciting stuff to see. If I’m gawking at Lauren Fowlkes (who you should vote for, by the way), then I’ll be missing Adriana Leon scoring a goal way on the other side of the field. This actually happened at the game, by the way.

(Thanks to Ruth of Cross-Conference Collector for pointing this out to me. SHAME ON MY FAMILY.)

Notre Dame coach Randy Waldrum complained about the officiating on Twitter, but I can’t really remember any blatant referreeing gaffes, other than a number of offsides calls against Rose Augustin. My bad.

Also, it must be noted that Villanova’s most skillful (if not dangerous) player is none other than Channing Press, the younger sister of the mighty Christen Press (also known as The Sharpest Edge of Stanford’s Deadly Sword). Anyone who has seen Christen play would surely do a double take upon seeing Channing, who runs and holds her shoulders almost exactly like her sister does. Poor Channing did her best — she was certainly a skilled player with the ball — but ND’s Jessica Schuveiller was more than a match for her.

Another moment of note: ND’s Amanda Laddish screaming at her teammate Lindsay Brown: “Why did you stop?!” when Brown failed to chase down a ball Laddish was sending into space for her.

Also. Scouting the game were Philadelphia Independence coach Paul Riley and…wait for it…

THE BONE CRUSHER!!!!one!!eleventy!!11!

Yes, Holmfridur Magnusdottir was in the stands. Gone were the broad shoulders and bulging muscles we are used to seeing on FSC — she actually looked quite slender and mild-mannered. I think she is the Incredible Hulk, only more incredible.

We were quite sure that Riley was there to scout the Irish seniors, most notably Fowlkes (vote for her). Speaking of Fowlkes, I was obviously beside myself with joy, getting to watch one of my favorite players. I can now add her to the list of Very Great Players that I have seen in person.

Special thanks go to Ruth of Cross-Conference Collector for suggesting that I watch this game even before I moved to Pennsylvania. I had it marked on the calendar and everything and I’m very glad I went, even if it was freezing cold. It was so terribly cold in the stands, and I’m also very glad I’m back in my warm apartment writing this.

EDIT (10/26/2010): The Cross-Conference Collector has more musings on the Villanova-Notre Dame game.

Written by teamongolia

October 22, 2010 at 11:04 pm

NCAA: Is the Bermuda Triangle in South Bend or something

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Where in the world is Taylor Knaack?

Knaack stopped playing around two weekends ago and has since disappeared from the Notre Dame roster as well. That was a more preemptive information wipe than that of Tereza Stastny, who at least waited until the end of the season to disappear. I’m very sad now.

Kindly direct all information regarding Knaack’s whereabouts into the comments section. okthnxbai

EDIT: Taylor Knaack has been found.

Written by teamongolia

October 18, 2010 at 12:03 pm

NCAA: This is a Reminder

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Click on the image to go vote for Lauren!

If you don’t vote for her, then you’re a crazy Chinese lady who steps on kittens’ heads with her stiletto heels.

Written by teamongolia

October 15, 2010 at 6:00 pm

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