Women’s NCAA Tournament Round 3 Summary

It was all a bit exhausting Sunday. There were thoroughbred games, overtime competitions. There were tough duels, memorable goals and a few mistakes. And in the end, seven teams secured a place in the final eight of the NCAA tournament. Here’s how most of it happened.

Alabama comes alive in the second half, defeating UC Irvine 3-1

Alabama has never been here — at least not recently. The Crimson Tide have built something under Wes Hart and created a sustained line of talent that has had a big impact this year. And on Sunday, when his quality was questioned, Alabama delivered. After being faded in the first half, Alabama scored three goals in the second half, using a corner, a penalty and a close-range finish to tear apart a resilient UC Irvine side. The Anteaters showed some offensive quality and after Suus De Bakker found the net to put them on one, a comeback seemed possible. But Alabama kept attacking and refused to stay on the leash. And it was rewarded with their third goal – both a winner and proof of how this team could win anything.

Florida State beats Pittsburgh, 3-0, in controlled performance

At this point, the state of Florida has found numerous ways to win games. There was the counterattack against Virginia, the controlled win over North Carolina, followed by the chaotic shootout against Florida State. And Sunday afternoon was perhaps the Seminoles’ most consistent performance to date. They put three past a robust Pitt side with relative ease and scored a goal in the second minute before adding two more early in the second half. Jody Brown was among them all again, scoring and assisting in the win.

Virginia beats Penn State in Overtime Thriller, 3-2

This game could have ended 5-4. Maybe it should have been. After Virginia and Penn State went 2-2 into overtime — the end of a grueling 90 minutes — more stable overtime seemed likely. But it never came. Instead, it was messy, swinging back and forth. Virginia scored the only goal, Haley Hopkins struck from close range but should have scored two more. On the other hand, Penn State was temptingly close to completing a book or two of its own. Appropriately, it all boiled down to a hectic ending. Virginia goalie Cayla White dived to deflect a cross off goal. The ball fell awkwardly at one Penn State player before rebounding in the path of another. Then it was chopped away far in bottom field, with two players still chasing after it after the time ran out. What could have ended twice with the ball in the net ended with a straight sprint instead. But it was such a game.

Clinical Attack leads Notre Dame 2-0 past TCU

With the quality of Korbin Albert in the final third, it’s easy to believe Notre Dame is a one-man team. But there’s plenty of talent around them, which was clear to see on Sunday night. Olivia Wingate and Madison Mercado snatched goals as the Fighting Irish put on a controlled performance to defeat a menacing TCU team. There were some difficult moments, but Mackenzie Wood stayed calm when called up.

Arkansas beats Memphis on penalties after 3-3 thriller

Memphis enjoyed a solid first round with a 1-0 win over a strong Saint Louis team. But a more physical Arkansas team turned out to be more of a challenge. And the Razorbacks fulfilled that assumption. The two teams equalized over 110 minutes and were tied 3-3 after overtime. In a penalty shootout, Arkansas had just enough to knock out the Tigers and earn a place in the last eight. Grace Barbara ended up being the heroine, reaching wide to the right to pull off a dramatic save that the Razorbacks prevailed.

Duke Edge’s South Carolina, 2-1

Wouldn’t it always end with Michelle Cooper’s right foot? The Duke forward has upped her game this season, becoming both a more cultured passer and a top-tier finisher. And she was inevitably crucial for the Blue Devils on Sunday night as she bagged a brace to send them past South Carolina in a difficult match. Duke enjoyed the majority of possession and scored the South Carolina goal. But goaltender Heather Hinz was characteristically sharp, making eight saves to keep her team in the game. Payton Patrick pulled one back for the Gamecocks with 90 seconds left, but most of the damage was done. Cooper reappeared. And it’s easy to wonder how far they can go when she shoots.

Turner and McMahon lead UCLA 2-0 past Northwestern

UCLA had a real scare in the first round of NCAA tournament play when they were forced into a penalty shootout by UCF. On Sunday night, the Bruins looked more like the team rolling through the regular season. They turned to the quality of Reilyn Turner and Quincy McMahon for goals, with the forward and defender scoring a goal each to round off a full performance. UCLA goalie Lauren Brzykcy felt reasonably comfortable throughout, only being forced to a save when the Bruins held off a solid Northwest team.

On Saturday:

North Carolina 3-2 BYU – The Tar Heels were relatively composed against a leggy BYU team, with Avery Patterson contributing three assists in a convincing win over one of last year’s finalists.

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