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Your Curated Guide to Women's Sports

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, AP Women's Soccer
Twitter: @AnnieMPeterson

 
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, High Post Hoops
Twitter: @HowardMegdal

  
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, NWHL Broadcaster
Twitter: @ELindsay08
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The winner of your Player of the Year fan vote—College Cup primer—must-click woso links


The results are in! A bunch of you voted for Player of the Year! Thank you so much. I wasn't expecting so much participation. Really cool. 

But before we get to your vote, U.S. Soccer released its list of candidates last week for both the men's and women's teams. The candidates for the women's side are Lindsey Horan, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Julie Ertz and Tobin Heath.

So here's my choice: Heath. I don't want to diminish what Alex Morgan has done, because she's been spectacular. But when I watched Heath in World Cup qualifying, I was just struck by her technical skill and how she makes those around her better. I think its also impressive that she worked her way back from a couple of disappointing seasons, injury-wise. Heath has seven goals and six assists in eight starts.

BUT y'all didn't agree with me AT ALL. In fact, Heath did not get even one vote. Also, U.S. Soccer didn't even put Becky Sauerbrunn on the list.

So here goes: You overwhelmingly chose Morgan, and rightfully so because she's got a stunning 18 goals in 19 games. Here's how one voter explained it: 


"I vote for Alex Morgan. It’s not just the 18 goals, which in itself is quite a feat. It’s the consistency (18 in 19, 24 of 25). But it’s also the six braces and one hat trick. It’s the China, Japan, and Scotland wins. She also has greatly stepped up her defense. All year making key clearances. If it wasn’t for her clearances vs. Scotland no way does USA go undefeated. Finally, she had made so many perfect feeds to teammates which should have been assists. 2 in the Scotland game alone. If things would have went our way, she could have 6 assists easy. Second for me was Megan. Great set up, ball control, overall leadership. Third is Crystal Dunn. When she’s back protecting the left side, no one gets around her. She is fast, smart and dangerous on both ends. Totally underrated." 

And another well-reasoned response: 

"Her ability to pull out defenses by her smart runs which in turn opens up the opportunities for other teammates to score or make a difference just demonstrates her growth in understanding the sport as well as what her team needs from her. Watching the games closely, it dawned on me that teams prepare on how to defend against her just because of the perceived threat that she brings on the pitch. That last goal from Horan against AU was such a clutch goal and I took a step back to see how it happened.  AU was very well aware of the importance of that corner kick and if you look closely, a number of players marked her and that allowed Horan to hit a perfectly placed header into the net. "

Rapinoe was a close second, and by close I mean that it was just one vote separating the two.

Here's one voter's reasoning:


"I love so many of these players (and I’m a Thorns fan!), but Megan Rapinoe is key to this USWNT. She scores, she assists, she makes set plays happen. She is a leader on the field, and the team just plays better when she’s there. And I feel pretty much the same way about Tobin Heath, but Rapinoe’s stats are  better *this year*."

Sauerbrunn, Horan and Crystal Dunn also got votes. 

Again, many thanks to all who voted. This was fun, and we should do more of this kind of thing in the future because it's good to get other voices in this space. 


 

This Week in Women's Soccer


The NCAA Tournament is down to the Final Four. Graham Hays has the rundown for ESPNW.

Seth Vertelney looks at the USWNT Player of the Year candidates for goal.com.

Susie Rantz makes the case for Megan Rapinoe for Sounder At Heart.

Jacqueline Purdy for NWSLsoccer.com looks at the CAF and OFC qualifiers.  

Soccer America talked to Anson Dorrance about the U-17 women's team.

Banyana Banyana look to secure a spot in the World Cup against Mali. I'd sure love to see them in France!

Canada's U-17 team makes the semifinals of that level's World Cup for the first time.

Stephanie Yang on the NWSL players union for The Athletic.

Yes, this needs to happen: FIFA needs to get tougher with Iran so that all women can attend matches. 

 

Tweet of the week!

Five at The IX:

So, I'm a little bummed because the interview I had lined up for this week fell through. So instead of a Q & A, I thought I'd just share a few things you might like to know heading into the NCAA College Cup this weekend in Cary.  North Carolina plays Georgetown on Friday before Stanford plays Florida State. The championship match is set for Sunday. 

STANFORD: The Cardinal are the defending NCAA champions. The top national seed in the tournament has a 45-game unbeaten streak. That's the longest since North Carolina's undefeated streak of 70 games from 1996-98. The Cardinal lead the nation in both shots per game (22.74) and goals (61). They're making their eighth trip to the College Cup in the past 11 years. Catarina Macario has 14 goals and eight assists. 

FLORIDA STATE: The Seminoles won the title in 2014. This is their 10th overall trip to the College Cup but first since 2015. Florida State is led by Deyna Castellanos, who has 10 goals and six assists. She has 15 game-winning goals over the course of her Florida State career, second only to Dagny Brynjarsdottir, who had 19 from 2011-14.

GEORGETOWN: The Hoyas are making their second trip to the College Cup in the past three years. In 2016 the team fell in the semis to eventual champion USC. Georgetown has 21 wins so far this season, most in program history. The team is led by Caitlin Farrell, the Big East offensive player of the year, who has 18 goals to tie a program record. 

NORTH CAROLINA: The Tar Heels are the most decorated team in NCAA history, with 21 championships. But they haven't won one since 2012. North Carolina is an astounding 130-13-4 all-time in NCAA matches dating to the first tournament in 1982. They're the only team in the nation to appear in all 37 postseason tournaments. Freshman sensation Brianna Pinto has six goals and eight assists while sophomore forward  Alessia Russo was named ACC offensive player of the year. 
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