1. L'orange

    L'orange Member+

    Ajax
    Netherlands
    Jul 20, 2017
    I don’t think the SEC will have any teams this year as good as Auburn and South Carolina were last year—but it is still very early and, from top to bottom, this is a very competitive conference with a lot of teams that are solid or better.


    Auburn lost a number of key players and has taken a step back this year. They’ve still got a dangerous forward in Dodson but the team is young and it shows. The tigers were bold to play both North Carolina and Duke last weekend—but they were dominated in both games and failed to score a goal in either game. But like a lot of SEC teams, auburn is well coached and will surely have its moments, and victories, this season.


    I thought South Carolina would take a step back as well, as it lost a lot of senior starters, too, but the gamecocks have just picked up where they left off last year—winning tight games with their defense and leaning on star forward M. McCaskill to either score a key goal or set one up. In their last three games, they’ve beaten notre dame, Michigan and Clemson, and only gave up 1 goal total in the three contests, which were won 1-0 (OT), 2-1 and 1-0. A very well-organized defensive team that smartly plays to its strengths.


    Last year some pundits rated the Big 12 as a better conference than the SEC. I thought that was nonsense. Some people again have the Big12 rated higher this year—again, nonsense. Texas a&m played Kansas yesterday and whipped the Jayhawks 5-1. The Aggies earlier tied Ok. State. Texas a&m has some nice talent and could finish near the top of the SEC this year, IMO, in part because playing the aggies on their home field—with the crowd very close to the field and the corpsmen always beating their drums, etc.---is difficult. Don’t tell that to Butler, however: They went into College Station and beat A&M 2-0, the only Aggie loss this year.


    Florida has another solid team, as it does almost every year. The gators had both of their games this past weekend canceled because of Hurricane Irma, one of them against Florida St. The gators surprised me by beating Stanford in Gainesville, 3-2, but they earlier got beat by what I think is a middling Washington team, and so it is not clear just how strong the gators will be. Probably pretty strong. There is a lot of talent and they are well coached, and they will be a favorite in nearly all of their SEC games.


    Potential sleepers in the SEC this year could be Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi. Mississippi has scored a lot of goals thus far and I believe is unbeaten—though they did play a 1-1 tie with Michigan. The rebels certainly seem solid, at this point. We’ll know a lot more about this team soon as their next game is Thursday against Florida, in Gainesville. Alabama was a middling team last year but surprised everybody this year with their impressive win against Florida State in Tuscaloosa. Bama otherwise has beaten a fairly weak group of non-conference opponents with the exception of South Florida, which gave the tide its only loss. As with Mississippi, we’ll get a better read on Alabama with their next game—against South Carolina, in Columbia.


    Tennessee will be a team to watch. The Vols are undefeated, having beaten a weak group of non-conference teams and then yesterday pretty much having their way with Va. Tech, winning 3-1. (I think Va. Tech will struggle in the ACC this year.) Tennessee can and will throw a lot of pretty talented and athletic players on the field, and this year they are playing some pretty decent possession soccer. They’ve got an imposing and skilled center forward in Bunny Shaw, a JC transfer and member of the Jamaican women’s national team, and diminutive Katie Cousins, who started for the USA U20 NT, is an impressive defensive midfielder. The Vols are overloaded with good midfielders, some of whom have been forced into other positions. This is a team that needs to get a win either against florida or south carolina this year.


    As for everybody else, Arkansas, the surprise team in the SEC if not the country last year, doesn’t seem quite as good this year—but they are still hard to play with their direct, banshee style of soccer, which amounts mostly to kicking the ball toward the opponent’s goal and sending five girls after it at top speed. The hogs lost two away non-conference games this past weekend, to Connecticut and Providence, but they played a respectable game against Penn State and so are sure to create problems for opponents.


    Georgia, the worst team in the SEC last year, is improved but probably still not good enough. Vandy plays a nice possession style of soccer, and has arguably the best athlete in the conference in forward Simone Charly, but the Commodores have already lost three games (to Indiana, Rhode Island and St. Louis), so not sure how competitive they will be. Same for LSU and Miss. State—two teams that were not especially good last year. I haven’t seen either of them play this year, so we’ll have to see how they fare. Lastly, Missouri has been a solid program and should be solid this year. How solid, it is too soon to say. The tigers have some speedy forwards, and played a good first half against Southern Cal before being handled in the second. More recently they lost back-to-back 1-2 road games against TCU and Northwestern before rebounding with a win at home yesterday against San Diego State. Like a lot of teams, Missouri plays a lot better at home than on the road.


    Whew—too many teams! It promises to be another competitive and crazy SEC season.
     
    SiberianThunderT repped this.
  2. Glove Stinks

    Glove Stinks Member

    Jan 20, 2014
    Club:
    Chelsea FC
    Nice synopsis....keep it coming
     
  3. L'orange

    L'orange Member+

    Ajax
    Netherlands
    Jul 20, 2017
    I thought I'd mentioned every SEC school but forgot Kentucky. They've got a new coach, who's a Brit and has announced that he aims to make the recruiting of international players a priority. He's already got three--two from England and one from Japan. It wouldn't surprise me if the new coach, who was previously an assistant at Kentucky to former head coach John Lipsitz, got into the athletic director's head with the idea that more internationals were needed to improve the program--and he was the man to get them. Lipsitz had done a pretty decent job at kentucky; the cats weren't great but they were competitive. But they had a bad year last year and he, somewhat surprisingly, got sacked. He's now a volunteer assistant at Cal.
     
  4. devad

    devad Member

    Nov 18, 2012
    I watched the Penn St- Arkansas game. your description of them didn't fit at all with what I saw. They run around defensively trying to press high up the field, but they have some very good attacking players that created a lot of problems for Penn St. I didn't see a "Kick it towards the goal" approach at all. They also seems extremely young. That coach has done a really nice job with them. I remember when no good player would go to Arkansas.

    There do seem to be quite a few up and coming coaches and teams in the conference. It is exciting!

    And not to be that guy, But I TOLD YOU ALL, not to sleep on us. We have the best forward in the country and our coaches would have them ready.
     
  5. cpthomas

    cpthomas BigSoccer Supporter

    Portland Thorns
    United States
    Jan 10, 2008
    Portland, Oregon
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Just an FYI to you SEC fans, based on the current actual ARPI numbers, the ACC has the best average ARPI and the SEC has the second best, followed by the Pac 12. My full season simulation, however, has the SEC ending up #1. It will be interesting to see if it actually ends up that way.
     
  6. L'orange

    L'orange Member+

    Ajax
    Netherlands
    Jul 20, 2017
    #6 L'orange, Sep 12, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017
    Who is 'us'? South Carolina? The team is well coached and organized. As for McCaskill, outstanding player but I can't fully respect someone who likes to hit the turf as much as she does--and it's no secret. It was mentioned by the TV analyst in the Clemson game--not that she is a flopper, though that is a term I might use, but that she is not averse to embellishment when contact is made. Let me add that the analyst was not being critical but rather suggesting that she'd take advantage of a situation--contact in or near the box--if she could. Hey, it is done, but I don't like it--especially from someone who is built like a fire hydrant. I watched Florida's S. Jordan get bumped and knocked around around for years, and never saw her flop.

    As for Arkansas, their style of play is very direct and they are not a good possession team. And, further, when they fell behind in the second half of the Penn State game, they started whomping the ball down the field a LOT--so much so that the TV analyst said that they should stop doing that and try possessing the ball. If Arkansas is behind in the second half, they will start kicking the ball toward or into the box... a lot. That is their style, from what I've seen.
     
    Fish On repped this.
  7. jimhalpert

    jimhalpert Member

    Jan 9, 2011
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    That is exactly Arkansas soccer and it is a style that has worked for them.
     
  8. L'orange

    L'orange Member+

    Ajax
    Netherlands
    Jul 20, 2017
    Watched Florida beat Mississippi 1-0 tonight. Classic soccer game in the sense that one team, Florida, dominated possession for about 80 minutes but struggled to put the ball in the net, giving a plucky Ole Miss squad the opportunity to steal a result. Florida could have won the game 6-0 frankly--the gators were half a step away from scoring multiple goals--but the Mississippi keeper played a good game--came out nicely on several occasions to thwart through-balls to breaking florida forwards--and after a pretty bad first half, the rebels did a better job of man-marking in the second and generally of thwarting numerous gator forays into their defensive third.

    Ole Miss has a very speedy and talented forward in Kizer, and tried to counter with long balls to her all night, but Florida was wise to it and Mississippi didn't have much else to offer in attack. But they did put some pressure on florida late--got at least three corner kicks, as I recall--but nothing came of them.

    Florida should be good this year--they've got quite a bit of talent, their best player being a quick, lanky Brazilian who plays a lot like Marta, with very good ball skills. She's a transfer from a for-profit junior college based in Brooklyn and Miami. Yes, interesting. Defensively, they play three in the back and were a little loose at times but one would need a better midfield group than Ole Miss showed to exploit it.
     
  9. Fish On

    Fish On Member

    Oct 22, 2016
    Club:
    AC Mantova
    I guess a good possession team in a relative term......
     
  10. L'orange

    L'orange Member+

    Ajax
    Netherlands
    Jul 20, 2017
    Crazy first big night of SEC soccer. Some of the underdogs played well enough to get results but faltered late and ended up losing. That was the case in three games.

    Alabama played a solid game against highly ranked South Carolina in Columbia, bottling up the gamecocks and their star forward S. McCaskill for 75 minutes. But that wasn't long enough: the Tide defenders let McCaskill get behind them two or three times late in the game, and on one of them, as she often does, the burly Gamecock drew a penalty in the box. A teammate converted and South Carolina won the game 1-0. It was a pretty evenly played match. Bama hit the post twice, which is significant, and South Carolina had 9 corner kicks, but neither team really could generate much sustained attacking pressure. Nobody steals more late wins than South Carolina, usually with a late penalty kick. I think they won three or four of their last six games last year via late penalty kicks for 1-0 wins--and the pattern played out again tonight.

    In Auburn, the tigers upset the talented Texas A&M aggies, also by a score of 1-0. Auburn scored early in the game on a well-placed left-footed strike from the top right of the box and the tigers, surprisingly, made that lone goal stand up. The tigers played a good first half while the aggies seemed quite impatient and were rushing their attack. Texas a&m poured on the pressure in the second half, especially the last 20 minutes but could not find the tying goal. The auburn keeper made two excellent saves and the tigers managed to fend off a high number of aggie scoring opportunities. Speedy and talented a&m forward Allie Watt didn't play the first 23 minutes--curious coaching decision, I thought--but she was a constant threat in the second. Good win for auburn.

    Georgia played a solid game at Missouri, especially in the second half when they scored to tie the match at 1. But the Dogs couldn't hold on, giving up two goals in the last five minutes of the game and losing 3-1. Georgia probably deserved better but it's a 90 minute game.

    Indeed, Miss. State likewise apparently played a solid game against favored Arkansas, in the heart of darkness. The game seemed headed to a nil-nil tie but, again, the hogs managed to knock the ball in the net off a free kick with 2.5 minutes to go in the match and that was the difference, a 1-0 Arkansas win. Miss. State had more shots on goal than Arkansas (5-4) and more corner kicks, but couldn't score and that usually spells trouble, sooner or, in this case, later.
     
    orange crusader repped this.
  11. L'orange

    L'orange Member+

    Ajax
    Netherlands
    Jul 20, 2017
    There were two SEC games today (Sunday) to wrap up the first week of the conference schedule.

    In the first, Vandy controlled the ball for most of the game and managed to grease a goal late to beat a previously unbeaten LSU squad, in Baton Rouge, 1-0. Vandy plays a nice possession style of soccer and thumped a bunch of crosses into the LSU box in the first half, but there was rarely more than one Commodore player around as a target and so Vandy got very few quality chances out of all of its possession. I think the second half was much the same, with Vandy finally managing to squeak one in to gain a deserved victory. It's kind of typical of soccer that a lot of good linkup play leads to nothing but you finally score on a throw-in into the box, the ball pin-balling off players before somebody finally kicks it in the net. A lot of 1-0 games in the first week of SEC play.

    In the final conference game of this first week, Tennessee survived an early flurry of pressure by Kentucky--and a near goal--and then found its rhythm and pretty much controlled play thereafter, taking its SEC opener 3-0. Kentucky played with 5 midfielders, effectively, and that formation gave Tennessee trouble early--but it left the wildcats exposed in the back and they paid for it. The Vols scored their first goal on a lovely counterback. Freshman forward Erin Gilroy got the ball on the outside, beat her defender and lashed a strong low centering pass into the box that fellow forward Mary Alice Vignola clinically finished. Not long after, forward Meghan Flynn sent an excellent cross into the box from the left that transfer sensation Khadija "Bunny" Shaw headed in for her 7th goal of the season. Shaw is quite the target forward--tall, strong and with excellent ball skills and a strong soccer IQ. Tennessee coach Brian Pensky played his subs a lot in the second half, which saw the Vols miss a couple of good chances before Shaw got another goal on a nice through-pass from Dannielle Marcano. Vols are undefeated and look pretty strong but have three tough games coming up against auburn, south carolina and alabama, respectively. For every period, the testing period now begins in earnest.
     
  12. Kazoo

    Kazoo Member

    Nov 1, 2015
    At the midpoint of the SEC season, there has been separation. At the top of the conference we see South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Florida, Texas A&M and Tennessee. I said earlier in the year that I didn't think the SEC had any potential NCAA title-winning teams this year--and while that may still be true this group is shaping up to be pretty formidable.

    Undefeated South Carolina is an excellent defensive team, as usual, and finds ways to score one more than its opponent. While McCaskill is an excellent point producer and always dangerous, the gamecocks don't wow you with their attack, but they have an uncanny way of winning tight games. Last night they surprisingly gave up two goals to Mississippi State, were behind in the second half 1-2, but rallied to tie in regulation and win in overtime. That's their MO.

    Florida is also undefeated. The gators are playing their usual strong possession game and have quite a lot of talent all over the field--recall that they beat Stanford, in Gainesville, earlier in the season. Their last game of the season is against South Carolina, and of course that should be an cracking game.

    Vanderbilt is 4-0-1. The Commodores are solid in every respect and also play a very nice brand of soccer. They've got a murderous remaining schedule, however, as they must play Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Auburn.

    Texas A&M has one loss. The aggies are talented, very tough play in College Station, and seem to have found their footing after playing a bit meh earlier in the conference season. In contrast to Vandy, A&M has an easy remaining schedule--except for a match against Vandy, playing the weaker teams in the conference--and so there is every reason to expect that the aggies will be near the top of the SEC at the end of the season.

    Tennessee has a 3-1-1 record but perhaps has played better than its record. The Vols squandered some points when they lost what should have been a victory over auburn, giving up a late goal and settling for a tie--and played well enough to get a result against South Carolina but lost in OT (see above). UT scored 6 goals in a win over high-scoring Mississippi last night. This is an athletic and talented team that is still a bit erratic and needs to show it can get results in the big games. Plays Florida late in the season and has important away games left against missouri, arkansas and vandy.

    Bunched up in the middle of the conference are Ole Miss, Auburn, Arkansas, LSU, maybe Mississippi State and Missouri. All have records hovering around .500 or below and all will battle for points, of course, in the last half of the season, aiming to get into the SEC tournament.

    Brining up the rear are Alabama, Kentucky and Georgia. Bama beat florida state earlier in the year, and was apparently impressive in doing so, but they've struggled to score goals and have yet to win an SEC game (four losses and one tie). Kentucky and georgia also struggle to score, and other than a bad defense, nothing spells trouble like an inability to put the ball in the net. Onward!
     
  13. jimhalpert

    jimhalpert Member

    Jan 9, 2011
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Florida is not undefeated. They lost to A&M
     
  14. Kazoo

    Kazoo Member

    Nov 1, 2015
    Good catch--missed that.
     
  15. outsiderview

    outsiderview Member

    Oct 1, 2013
    Charlotte
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    What is the most teams SEC has had in the NCAA tournament? They have 9 teams inside the top 32 RPI, and Vandy is at 57 but will climb if they keep winning.
     
  16. Ingoldsby

    Ingoldsby Member

    Nov 12, 2014
    I don't know the answer to the question but I have to think that the conference won't end up with 9 in the top 32 RPI. All of the games going forward are against conference opponents which will benefit some of the teams and hurt others. Given no other conference has 9 in the top 32, I would think the relative negative impact should be greatest for the SEC. I know this is meatball math and CP Thomas may say I am completely wrong.
     
  17. cpthomas

    cpthomas BigSoccer Supporter

    Portland Thorns
    United States
    Jan 10, 2008
    Portland, Oregon
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Over the last 10 years, three times conferences have gotten 9 teams into the NCAA Tournament: The ACC in 2011 and 2012 and the Pac12 in 2014. In 2011 the ACC's most poorly ranked team to get in was #34; in 2012 it was #50; and for the Pac12 in 2014 it was #39.

    Altogether, there have been 5 teams ranked #9 in their conferences that have gotten into the Tournament (actually, one was ranked #9.5, meaning a 9-10 tie in the regular season standings). In two of the years in which #9s got in, other teams ranked better in the conference standings didn't. The best ranked #9 to get into the Tournament was #24.

    Nothing like a great data base!
     
  18. mpr2477

    mpr2477 Member

    Jun 30, 2016
    Club:
    Vancouver MLS
    Can we talk about Bunny Shaw!! Wow. She is impressive. Where on earth did she come from, and how was she not a big time recruit for a power 5 team out of hs?!
     
  19. olelaliga

    olelaliga Member

    Aug 31, 2009
    I don't know for sure why Bunny was at a Florida junior college her first two years, but I could put forward a theory:

    Bunny is a Jamaican national. She is on the full Jaimaican national team. I don't think she was an unknown. Her physical presence alone makes her notable. Quite a few foreign players come up through the JC ranks in order to achieve NCAA academic eligibility. Not sure if this is the reason, but I might suggest the possibility.
     
  20. mpr2477

    mpr2477 Member

    Jun 30, 2016
    Club:
    Vancouver MLS
    That makes sense. Tennessee is lucky to have her
     
  21. olelaliga

    olelaliga Member

    Aug 31, 2009
    That said she is outstanding. Certainly one of the most impactful players in the NCAA right now. She is more than just a big target. She is very smarty and generous with the ball. Additionally, she has the skills to offer a creative influence when she checks back. She is an excellent target in the box with her head and with her feet. She also offers a great service when she's wide with the ball. All around great player and currently underrated. If Tennessee make a real run in the post season, she should be one to watch for the Hermann. I actually really like Cousins and her impact is more subtle, but to have Cousins at 23 while Shaw is 36 probably isn't right. But then The over rateds are much abundant and in evidence in the TDS schemata.
     
  22. Kazoo

    Kazoo Member

    Nov 1, 2015
    Yea, Ogle at 5 is WAY overrated; Dorsey at 12 is underrated. Cousins and Shaw--both underrated. But one can't take lists like this too seriously.

    Shaw apparently played a lot of midfield for the Jamaican youth national teams, which is surprising given how big she is. But I assume the midfield experience helped hone her ball skills and soccer IQ. Pensky actually started her at midfield for the Vols early in the season--but ended that look-see pretty quickly. She is not fast--a weakness--but has qualities. Yesterday, Missouri had its biggest defender stay in Shaw's pocket all game--and the UT forward was frustrated, but she got the last laugh--setting up the tying goal late and winning it with a sweet free kick in OT. Shaw grew up in tough circumstances--she lost three brothers to gun violence and another to a car wreck.
     
  23. olelaliga

    olelaliga Member

    Aug 31, 2009
    That's exactly my immediate thought. Ogle wasn't nearly as good as Cousins in the u20 WC last year. Cousins was POM against Ghana. Ogle was horrific. She is the Penn State PK taker hence the goals. Total head scratcher, but there are others where you are like whaaaat?? Tennessee will have to make some noise in the tournament for their players to move much it seems. I mean I watch a lot of college soccer and i love UCLA but Mace is not a particularly good player. Without her midfield service ... My opinion Shaw is much better all around except maybe for track speed, but she's faster than you think.
     
  24. mpr2477

    mpr2477 Member

    Jun 30, 2016
    Club:
    Vancouver MLS
    She IS faster then people think.....combine that with her strength to hold off players and she's lethal
     
  25. oldmangrumpus

    oldmangrumpus Member

    Apr 13, 2015
    Club:
    Real Madrid
    Wondering the feelings across the SEC for 2018? Feels like the conference should be very strong this year.
     

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