Best Case/Worst Case: WCC in the Women’s Soccer NCAA Tournament


With three WCC teams in the 2014 Women’s Soccer NCAA Tournament, there are quite a few possible outcomes for the conference in this postseason. With one team in action today and two tomorrow in their first round matches, let’s play a round of best/worst case scenario to see how far each team could realistically go.

To play along, here’s the link to the full bracket to follow the paths of each WCC team if they were to progress deep into the tournament. These are of course hypothetical scenarios meant to envision the absolute best and worst case scenarios for each team.


It was a tale of two seasons for the Waves, so what version of this teams shows up starting today will dictate a lot about how they fare. Will it be the team that stormed through non-conference play only losing to defending national champion #1 UCLA and reached the top ten of the national rankings? Or will it be the team that stumbled to a third place finish in WCC play and let BYU run away with the title?

BEST CASE: The Waves find their mojo again after a nice confidence-building win over BYU to finish the regular season. Their stellar defense continues as it has all season, and they start to find just enough offense to starting pulling out wins like they were doing during the first half of the season.

Taking advantage of playing their first two matches at home thanks to a #4 national seed, they avoid a dangerous first round upset of USC and easily roll past Southern Florida after they must make a trip across the entire country to face the Waves in Malibu. From there the rest of their region goes according to plan as San Diego shocks #1 seed and defending national champion UCLA in the first round to remove the only higher seed in the region.

The Toreros then stumble on a cross country trip to Harvard, meaning the Waves don’t have to face either of the only two teams to beat them this year. Harvard must then make the same long trip as South Florida out to Malibu, and the well rested Waves easily roll to the Elite Eight having not needed to leave their campus yet.

Unfortunately, the Waves cannot get the same luck out of the bottom half of their quarter of the bracket as powerhouse and #2 national seed Virginia advances easily to the Elite Eight. The Waves are thrown off by their own long trip out to face the Cavaliers, but they hang tough before falling 1-0 in extra time to end their season. But it caps off one of the best seasons in program history and the Waves can hang their heads high.

WORST CASE: The postseason is over for the Waves before it even started. Having not faced a major conference team since their tough non-conference schedule, the Waves aren’t at all prepared for Pac-12 power USC. The Trojans get an easy trip just down the road to Malibu, and they come out blazing.

The Waves are not prepared and continue to struggle to find offense after a sluggish run through the WCC schedule. The defense continues to be strong, but they go down 1-0 early and spend the rest of the game desperately trying to find an equalizer as the prospect of their collapse becomes more and more real. The Trojans put the nail in the coffin with a late goal, and the Waves fall 2-0 in the first round to complete an epic collapse going from a national title contender in the first half of the season to third place in the WCC and without even one postseason win before bowing out.

Rubbing salt into the wound, both BYU and San Diego go on deep runs to prove the Waves were a complete fluke. San Diego upsets #1 UCLA doing something the Waves couldn’t do, and they reach the Elite Eight as the Waves watch them pull out a tough fought win in the Sweet Sixteen in a match the Waves thought they would be in. BYU meanwhile also makes a deep run helping invalidate the Waves win over them to end the season. Pepperdine officially goes from potentially the best team in the WCC this year to a second-tier contender.


The Toreros didn’t have an amazing season, but they also played a very tough schedule. Their winning record against ranked teams got them in to the postseason, and they should come in very confident and feeling like they can beat anyone in the country. Unfortunately due to them barely getting in, they do have a tough road ahead.

BEST CASE: The Toreros become the Cinderellas of the postseason garnering national attention as they play with a fearlessness forged by their strong record against ranked teams. They come out hot catching the defending champions UCLA totally off guard and manage a 2-1 win against the best defense in the nation.

From their with their confidence now sky-high, they roll through the second round to set up an all WCC matchup in the Sweet Sixteen between them and Pepperdine. Having already become one of only two teams to beat Pepperdine this season, the Toreros take great pleasure in ending the Waves’ season with a win in Malibu. They celebrate an Elite Eight berth as Pepperdine laments how they cannot seem to beat the Toreros who have now ended their season and completed their collapse.

Playing with house money and nothing to lose, they head to Virginia to face the Cavaliers with a trip to the Final Four on the line. They grab an early goal, but having the Final Four in their sights in front of a big crowd in a big game is just too much too handle. They concede two goals and fall 2-1 to end their season.

But just two years after their men’s team reached the Elite Eight, the San Diego women have a big run of their own to brag about and set themselves up to continue to develop into a consistently successful program. Years later as they celebrate yet another WCC Championship, people look back on this run as the one that started it all.

WORST CASE: The UCLA game goes exactly like expected. Facing the defending national champions, the weaker Toreros are crushed by the most efficient team in the nation. After being shut out 2-0 by the Bruins earlier in the season, the crushing defense continues to stump the Toreros. They get off the fewest shots they have all season, and the Bruins go up early and cruise to a 3-0 win. The helpless Toreros never have a shot.

Meanwhile, Pepperdine makes a run to the Sweet Sixteen. As they battle UCLA, the Toreros wonder what could have happened if they were playing the Waves again after having beat them earlier this year. It stings even more when the two elite defenses play to a 0-0 draw after extra time, and the Waves advance dramatically on penalty kicks. Seeing a team they beat finally do what they couldn’t by beating UCLA hurts, and Toreros are left wondering and knowing they could beat both UCLA and Pepperdine if given another shot that they won’t get.


The Cougars had a very strong season that was only overshadowed by the attention on Pepperdine. But BYU just quietly cruised to a great season and the WCC Championship on the strength of a high-powered offense led by WCC Co-Player of the Year Ashley Hatch and a strong defense led by WCC Defender of the Year Annie Amos. They are the most complete team the WCC is sending to the NCAA Tournament, and they represent the best hope the conference has for a deep run this postseason.

BEST CASE: The Cougars enter the postseason with a confidence knowing they can beat anyone when they are at their best. They know their regular season finale loss to Pepperdine was simply because they took it easy not needing the win, and they roll past Colorado in the first round taking advantage of being used to the high altitude of the away game thanks to playing in the mountains of Utah.

South Dakota State shocks North Carolina in the first round, creating a much easier path for them. Instead of heading across the country to face a #2 national seed, BYU gets to return home and easily dispatches the Jackrabbits to head to the Sweet Sixteen. Facing the prospect of four very good potential opponents, they Cougars again luck out and get Washington State who is arguably the weakest of their four potential foes.

The Cougars get another offensive explosion including two goals from Ashley Hatch, and they win a high-scoring affair 4-2 to advance to the Elite Eight. Just as it looks like they will have to fly to Florida to take on powerhouse and #1 national seed Florida State, #4 seed Wisconsin pulls out a 2-1 upset in extra time in one of the most dramatic matches in the tournament so far.

Exhausted from a grueling first three rounds that featured having to beat undefeated DePaul followed by Florida powers Central Florida and Florida State, the Badgers are weak and cannot contain the high-powered BYU offense. The Cougars justify their WCC Championship with a 2-1 upset as Hatch gets the game winner in the final minutes of regular time when the Badgers are completely depleted of their remaining energy.

The Cougars become the little team that could as they head to the Final Four as the only team not nationally seeded. They go up against #1 UCLA who long ago dispensed WCC foes San Diego and Pepperdine in the earlier rounds. It becomes a defensive battle as the Cougars can’t get past the best defense in the nation, but their own elite defense also holds the Bruins at bay. In extra time with the score still 0-0 and it looking like it will go to penalty kicks, the Bruins show why they’re an elite team and finally break through for a goal and a 1-0 win.

The Cougars are heartbroken knowing they had a shot to make it to the national title game, but their run is one of the best by any team in any sport in the WCC in recent memory, and they walk away knowing they did an amazing job. UCLA easily rolls to their second consecutive national championship, and nobody faults the Cougars for dropping a tough one to them. The Cougars are on the national map and get a huge recruiting boost after the amazing run and close loss to UCLA.

WORST CASE: The Cougars go up to Colorado and avenge their first round loss to the Buffaloes but are shocked at the lack of offense as they settle for a 1-0 win. The loss to Pepperdine has thrown them off more than they thought, and they must now travel across the country to face one of the best programs in the nation in #2 seed North Carolina.

Once again the offense just isn’t there, and the Tar Heels go up 1-0 early. The Cougars finally find their first goal late in the game, but their hearts are broken as North Carolina responds moments later with a go-ahead goal in the final minutes. The game ends shortly after, and the Cougars fall 2-1 in the second round to end their season.

Meanwhile, Pepperdine and San Diego roll to the Sweet Sixteen and the entire WCC points to their matchup in the later rounds as a highlight moment for the conference. BYU must sit at home and fume as nobody seems to remember they, not the Waves or Toreros, won the WCC Championship.

All three WCC teams in the tournament are solid squads with a lot of potential, and it will be exciting to see how they fare. Last year with three teams in the field, the WCC got all of them to the second round and one to the Sweet Sixteen. That’s a lot to live up to, but we think this group is up to the task.

Catch San Diego at UCLA today at 7 pm Pacific. Tomorrow Pepperdine and BYU are both in action starting at 12 pm Pacific. The Waves host USC while the Cougars visit Colorado.