What to Expect in the NCAA Final Four

    The NCAA College Cup is one of the best weekends for women’s soccer for many reasons. Think of this weekend as a college all-star game where the best of the best play each other, but there’s a National Championship on the line. Even if you haven’t been following college soccer or know what these teams are about, these are the future stars of the women’s game. Multiple players from the Final Four will be going to the NWSL or Europe next season. This is a weekend of games you won’t want to miss. Here’s a preview of the 2023 NCAA Final Four.


    No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 1 Clemson: Friday, December 1 at 6:00 PM ET/3:00 PM PT, ESPNU

    • FSU’s Road to Final Four: Morehead State (5-0), No. 8 Texas A&M (1-0), No. 5 Texas (5-0), No. 7 Pittsburgh (3-0) 
    • Clemson’s Road to the Final Four: Radford (2-0), No. 8 Columbia (2-1), No. 4 Georgia (1-1, 5-3 PKs),  No. 2 Penn State (2-1) 

    The first matchup is an ACC showdown between two teams who know each other well in Florida State and Clemson. Looking at their respective seasons and road through the tournament, Florida State has dominated quality opponents and has yet to concede a goal. Clemson might not have performed as well as Florida State, but the whole point of the tournament is to survive and advance. While the familiarity will help Clemson prepare for Florida State, this is their first-ever trip to the College Cup, whereas Florida State is making their fourth straight trip to the Final Four. Clemson has a great one-two punch in Makenna Morris upfront, and Megan Bornkamp is doing a little bit of everything, but can they stand up to a loaded Florida State roster?

    The Seminoles attack is the best in the country, plus the addition of Taylor Huff from the transfer portal. I didn’t even mention one of the best goalkeepers, if not the best goalkeeper in the country in Cristina Roque. These two teams met in the regular season, and Clemson did well, going up 2-0 in the first 20 minutes. Yet, Florida State responded with four goals to win the game 4-2. Clemson can pull off the upset, but they have to play a perfect game to beat Florida State, who has a near-perfect record, 20-0-1 with one draw., I’m taking the Seminoles to get to the final.

    Prediction: Florida State wins 3-1


    No. 1 BYU vs. No. 2 Stanford, Friday, December 1 at 8:30 PM ET/5:30 PM PT, ESPNU

    • BYU’s Road to the Final Four: Utah State (2-0), No. 8 USC (1-0), No. 5 Michigan State (3-1), No. 3 North Carolina (4-3)
    • Stanford’s Road to the Final Four: Pepperdine (3-0), No. 7 South Carolina (3-0), No. 6 Mississippi State (1-0), No. 5 Nebraska (2-1, 2OT)

    Two West Coast powers square off in what should be an epic showdown. These two teams feel like teams of destiny for different reasons. BYU has come back from the dead multiple times in this tournament. The Cougars trailed Michigan State 1-0 before responding with three straight goals. BYU followed that up with one of the craziest games you’ll ever see, coming back from three goals down to beat North Carolina 4-3.

    On the other hand, Stanford is an unbeaten team on a mission. If they can go all the way and win the title, it will be an emotional scene as the team is sure to dedicate what they did to the memory of Katie Meyer. For them to handle the SEC teams in the manner that they did and beat a Nebraska team that had an incredible year shows they have what it takes to win it all. Stanford has the pedigree with three national championships and ten College Cup appearances, whereas BYU is starting to trend in Stanford’s direction as a college soccer powerhouse.

    BYU is in their second College Cup, and the first time they got there in 2021, they almost beat Santa Clara to win it all. Their two star players, Brecken Mozingo, and Jamie Shepherd, should have that game fresh in their minds and will look to finish the job this time. Jennifer Rockwood deserves plenty of adulation for what she’s turned BYU’s program into.

    The matchups between the star players will be the biggest thing to watch. Stanford also has a great duo in Jasmine Aikey and Maya Doms. Doms versus Jamie Shepherd is the most important matchup on the field because both are the engines of their respective teams. Aikey and Mozingo are likely to have a say in the goal-scoring department.

    Who will have the bigger impact? I’m giving Stanford the edge because BYU isn’t the same team when they leave Provo. Their big wins this season over St. Louis and UCLA were at home. Their crowd has been a huge advantage for them. I don’t think they’d come back from a 3-0 against North Carolina if it were at a neutral site, but the crowd’s energy gave BYU a huge boost, willing them back into the game. This game will be close, but Stanford should come away with the win.

    Prediction: Stanford wins 2-1 (After Extra Time)




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