NCAA soccer: Memphis at Arkansas

Time and date to be determined.

Florida and SoCar got #1 seeds, Auburn got a 4 seed. We weren’t seeded. If we win, likely to play 3 seed Clemson for second round next weekend. That regional will probably be at 2 seed North Carolina, which lost in ACC final yesterday on penalty kicks to FSU. Memphis lost in AAC semifinal to UConn.

Seed: Team: RPI

06: ARKANSAS: 18
11: Memphis: 28

03: Clemson: 14
14: Northeastern: 56

Most likely looking at

02: UNC: 05 and
01: SC: 03

after that.

I like our chances.

Our only common opponent with Memphis was Ole Miss. UM beat the Bears 1-0 at Oxford in August. We beat the Bears 2-1, also at Oxford, in late September.
Clemson finished tied with Notre Dame for the ACC regular season title at 7-1-2 (evidently they don’t play OT in conference games). Duke, who we beat 2-1 in August (and also got a seed) was third at 7-2-1. Clemson beat Duke 1-0 on Oct. 27 in their only meeting.

Soccer is one of those sports where a single game elimination tournament is very unpredictable. Seedings go out of the window and unless the talent is overwhelming, any team can beat anybody. And even with great talent, an excellent goalkeeper can put the game into penalty kick situation and anything can happen.

So, I am not worried about not being seeded. We have as good a chance of winning as any other team in the tournament.

What I like about this team is the work rate. They play incredibly hard. Colby Hale, the coach, doesn’t ask for you to play 90 minutes. He’s going to rotate his players several times. If you are tired, he’ll get you out. But while you are out there, you better play incredibly hard. He gets the effort he demands. The pressure at the top gets results. You will not have the ball long if you are the opposition on defense. They are coming for you and you better play quickly. That gets turnovers. Florida turned it over a bunch and Arkansas had chances, just didn’t finish them. I’m a little worried that one of the better players won’t play. Claire Kelly hurt her knee late in the Florida game. She was still limping a little Monday night at the selection party. They need her to be well by Friday. She’s been a part of many of the key goals for the last few years. Lots of assists and quite a few goals.

I’d expect this to be a low-scoring game. Memphis led the AAC in shutouts this season and Arkansas has been very good defensively.

I took a look at the Memphis roster. Very interesting. Loaded with Canadian players, most of whom were on the national team during some point of their development. Valerie Sanderson is their star. She played on the Canadian U-17 and U-20 national team and played in the age group FIFA world cup. She has 56 career goals, 16 this year. She is an amazing player.

recruiting in all sports is always interesting. It is easy to understand how an unknown player goes off to college and develops into a star, but how does a player of that caliber who has obviously been performing at a really high level in front of a lot of people for years wind up at Memphis?

Good thing they don’t play by FIFA rules where only 3 substitutions are allowed.

Yep. And the NCAA rules are the subject of some controversy, with some claiming they stifle the development of American players. However, most of our World Cup champion women also came through the NCAA system and they seem to be developing just fine.

Regarding Memphis’ Canadian star, I think most US schools just don’t think of recruiting much north of the border in many sports. Used to be that way in basketball too, but now we’ve seen a number of Canadian kids, from Nash to Wiggins to Olynyk, who succeeded in college and then in the NBA. We’ve had the occasional Canadian in our track program, and even a couple on the baseball team. (I once had a stumper: Arkansas has one black baseball player but no African Americans. How is that possible? Answer: He was Kern Watts, an African-Canadian.)

When US tightened the immigration to US following 9/11, immigration to Canada from Africa and Caribbean is rising steadily. A lot of young talent in Canada in various sports is sons/daughters of immigrants. I expect colleges to start looking even more to Canada for recruits.

On the Canadian players and how they ended up in Memphis, I got a good guess from daughter Sarah. I’m not sure it’s how it happened, but it makes sense. Her answer goes back to her college days at Northeastern State from about 12 years ago. She had four English teammates. They all came from an international tournament held in – you guessed it – Memphis. She said her coach went to scout the international players and picked up four players with one offer. He was interested in one girl from the English squad and was told by the coach that he’d have to take three more to get one. Three of the four were very good players, including a striker who ended up making Sarah the No. 2 career assist player at NSU. She was at the end of many of her crosses, corners and restarts. Put it near her and it was a goal.

Now I don’t know if they still have that international tournament in Memphis, but it might be the source of the Canadian recruiting for the Tigers. It makes sense to me.

The TV crew (play by play man seemed to be from Memphis) said Memphis has 14 Canadian girls. I kinda doubt all 14 played in that one tournament. Sounds like they just work the Canadian recruits like Colby Hale works the Dallas-area clubs.