By Connor Buestad | Connor@Section925.com
Over the first weekend in December, America’s four best women’s soccer teams converged inside Avaya Stadium, the home of the San Jose Earthquakes, for what turned out to be a spectacular event for the ever-growing sport. Georgetown, USC, West Virginia and North Carolina were the final four who made this year’s College Cup, all of which brought contrasting styles and abundant diversity to the “The Beautiful Game.”
With soccer legend Julie Foudy up in the broadcast booth and fans upwards of 6,000 intently watching above Avaya’s fan-friendly pitch, West Virginia was able to knock off 22-time National Champion North Carolina in the first Friday semi-final. In the nightcap, the USC Trojans took care of Georgetown to set up a evenly matched Sunday showdown featuring national team-level talent up and down both rosters.
Sparked by an unexpected header goal in the first few minutes of play, USC went into halftime holding a one goal lead, despite repeated offensive chances by West Virginia. In the second half, the levee finally broke as Canadian National Team star Ashley Lawrence sent a missile into the back of the net to pull things even in a suspenseful National Title Game. It didn’t take long, however, for USC to answer with a clutch, well placed goal of their own, as Katie Johnson placed the eventual game winner into the bottom right corner of the net. Just for good measure, Johnson stuck again with a top-shelf strike that West Virginia’s keeper had no fighting chance at. In the two Final Four games Johnson spent in San Jose, she racked up a total of three goals, two of which were game winners. Not bad for a player who has overcome a series of knee injuries and came into Sunday’s championship as a substitute.
The loss by West Virginia was taken especially hard for a group of young women who were arguably the more talented team on Sunday evening. A team proud of it’s diversity and international talent that has elevated its program to its best season in program history. Tears flowed on the field after the final horn, but the Mountaineers, led by Lawrence, were gracious in defeat in the post game press conference. Regardless of which side you were rooting for on Sunday in San Jose, no one can argue how bright the future is for Women’s soccer across the globe. The showcase on the field in San Jose spoke for itself.