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2017 Women’s College Cup Semifinals: Stanford, UCLA Advance to Championship Match



We now know who will compete in the 2017 NCAA Women’s College Cup final at Orlando City Stadium on Sunday. Stanford advanced with a 2-0 semifinal win over South Carolina in the opener and UCLA out-lasted Duke in penalties after a scoreless draw. The two Pac-12 rivals will meet in Sunday’s final at noon.

The Cardinal and Gamecocks were essentially over by halftime but the Bruins and Blue Devils needed to play beyond 90 minutes to decide who would move on. The game went through two 10-minute overtime periods and into penalty kicks before Marley Canales’ shot as the fifth UCLA shooter pushed the Bruins to a 4-3 penalty victory following 110 minutes of scoreless soccer.

Stanford 2-0 South Carolina

In the opening match, Stanford bossed the South Carolina Gamecocks, controlling the vast majority of the possession throughout the first half and finding the net twice. Junior midfielder Jordan DiBiasi scored her eighth and ninth goals of the season in the opening period to stake the Cardinal to a 2-0 halftime advantage.

Stanford started quickly, getting a scoring chance in the first minute when Jaye Boissiere had a shot blocked just inside the top of the penalty area. South Carolina had trouble getting out of its own end but the Gamecocks finally broke for their first shot in the ninth minute. Ryan Gareis did well to get onto a long ball down the left channel and whipped a cross into the box for Meaghan Carrigan, who sent a one-time shot on target but it was right at goalkeeper Alison Jahansouz.

Just one minute later, Gareis had to come off with an injury just as Stanford won a free kick out near the left sideline. The Cardinal used the set piece to open the scoring. DiBiasi got her head to Tegan McGrady’s service and nodded it home to break the scoreless deadlock.

It was the first goal allowed by South Carolina in its entire NCAA tournament run to the Final Four.

The Cardinal continued to dominate possession and the Gamecocks started to show some cracks on defense as the first half wore on, trying to counter whenever they could. But Stanford was able to thwart most of those counters with speed and the diligent tracking back of USWNT midfielder Andi Sullivan.

South Carolina fashioned a good chance on its first corner of the game in the 16th minute, when a good hustle play by freshman Luciana Zullo led to a rare Gamecocks set piece. The corner fizzed into the area and Jahansouz couldn’t get a touch on it but no one could get onto it and it skipped harmlessly out the other side of the box.

DiBiasi doubled the lead in the 26th minute. McGrady sent Catarina Macario down the left channel and the freshman crossed to DiBiasi, who quickly fired a shot that deflected off a defender and wrong-footed goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski to make it 2-0. It was DiBiasi’s first multi-goal game of the 2017 season.

Stanford continued to control the game and build up attacks, taking an 8-3 edge in shots into the break. DiBiasi hit a hard strike right at the keeper, nearly netting a hat trick in the first half, and the Gamecocks cleared two shots off the line to keep the match from getting out of hand early.

The Cardinal nearly put the game away two minutes into the second half. Macario sent a blast off the post from about 20 yards out and the ball hit the back of Krzeczowski and spun toward the goal line but the South Carolina keeper jumped on it to keep it out just at the last second.

The game calmed down quite a bit after that, with Stanford sending a few shots from the top of the box or beyond over the net. South Carolina, for its part, got a rare attempt away from distance but neither side worried the other’s keeper for much of the second half.

DiBiasi came about a foot from a hat trick in the 82nd minute, scorching a shot from distance just over the bar. That was the game’s final good scoring chance as Stanford hung on for the 2-0 win. It was just the second time all season that South Carolina was shut out. The Cardinal out-shot the Gamecocks 17-5 (7-1 on goal) en route to a fourth College Cup final.

“Obviously no one wants to be sitting here saying the season’s over but I couldn’t be more proud of this group and this team,” said South Carolina Head Coach Shelley Smith after the match. “I told these players to not hang their heads. They’ve done amazing things for this program. They’ve accomplished great things and we just ran into a better team tonight. Stanford is excellent. We wish them well and they deserved that win.”

“I am very happy with the team’s performance,” said Stanford Head Coach Paul Ratcliffe. “I think we played really well. We started the game fast, Jordan scored a couple great goals, just a fantastic performance all around.”

UCLA 0-0 Duke (4-3 on pens.)

The nightcap started as the more entertaining game, with UCLA pressing high and Duke throwing counter-attack haymakers back. While the Bruins came at the Blue Devils in waves, with creative passing and runs into the area, Duke looked to hit back with the blazing speed of Imani Dorsey, who fired three of the Blue Devils’ four first-half shots.

UCLA got numbers into the box just five minutes in but between three different players, no one could pull the trigger on a shot and a great early scoring chance went wanting. Dorsey missed wide of the back post by inches on the counter attack at the 18-minute mark for Duke.

Three minutes later, UCLA earned a corner kick and tried an audacious playground set piece, with two players dummying for Hailie Mace but referee Jonathan Weiner got in her way and she was unable to take the shot. When the ball cycled back in from the opposite wing, Jessie Fleming got onto a cross but her header didn’t have enough sting to beat Duke keeper E.J. Proctor. A minute later, Ashley Sanchez fired just wide for UCLA. 

Mace nearly caught Proctor napping in the 33rd. Off a Duke turnover, Mace picked up the ball, turned, and fired from about 30 yards out but her long-range effort was just over the bar.

The best chance of the first half came from Duke in the 37th minute. Kayla McCoy got down the right wing and fizzed a cross to the top of the six-yard box for Taylor Racioppi, but she got under it and fired high from close range. 

The frantic pace settled down just a bit toward the end of the opening period, but UCLA did send a few dangerous crosses into the box. The Bruins consistently were getting four or five players into the area but couldn’t quite connect and eventually the halftime whistle blew on a scoreless opening 45 minutes.

UCLA held a 6-4 advantage in shots (1-1 on target).

The Bruins got a chance just after the restart with a great through ball putting Mace in behind the defense but her shot went just wide. Five minutes later, Racioppi again fired over the bar for Duke — this time from the top of the box. But four minutes after her miss, Racioppi made a vital block on a shot by Sanchez to prevent a good scoring opportunity for the Bruins.

The Bruins weren’t able to break down Duke as much in the second half. The Blue Devils had five defending on the defensive end with a four-player midfield and they started forcing more and more turnovers as the game wore on. The pace slowed considerably as the Bruins tired and it made Duke’s counter much more dangerous.

In the 67th minute Dorsey sliced through the UCLA defense by herself and fired from the top of the area but she didn’t get all of it and Teagan Micah made a sprawling save. Ten minutes later, McCoy got into the box but a last-minute challenge by Kaiya McCullough prevented a clean shot and forced a corner.

As time wound down, MacKenzie Cerda fired a long-range effort a few feet over the bar for the Bruins with four minutes to play as the prospect of extra time loomed over the match. UCLA got the last opportunity in normal time in the 89th minute but Zoey Garolski fired over the bar from range.

Anika Rodriguez tried to get the Bruins on the board early in the extra session, trying to chip Proctor but the Duke goalkeeper didn’t stray from her line and caught it easily. That was basically it for the chances in the first half of overtime. There wasn’t any real menace in the second overtime period either and the game went into spot kicks. UCLA out-shot Duke, 15-10, but got only one shot on goal and that came in the first half. The Blue Devils put three on target.

In the shootout, Duke shot first and put the Bruins under pressure when Gabi Brummett sent Micah the wrong way and slotted into the lower left corner. Zoey Goralski evened it up for UCLA with a shot high on the right side past Proctor. The Bruins took the advantage when Duke’s Melinda Allen fired off the top of the crossbar and Julia Hernandez followed with a goal for UCLA. After Karlie Paschall evened things up with Duke’s third shot, Proctor stopped Cerda’s effort and the teams were even at 2-2 after three shooters.

Ashton Miller put Duke ahead on penalties, 3-2, when her shot went in off of Micah’s hands and it seemed the tide was starting to turn. But McCoy leveled it for UCLA on the next shot. With the shootout tied at 3-3 after four shooters apiece, Kat McDonald stepped up for Duke but Micah made the save. The stage was then set for Marley Canales, who fired high but just under the bar to send UCLA through to the final.

“I can’t say enough how hard that is to do, coming in cold off the bench and being the fifth kicker,” said UCLA Head Coach Amanda Cromwell after the match. “A lot of players would shy away from those moments and Marley grasped it, took it, and got to celebrate.”

“I was approaching the ball and I could see (Proctor) moving right-left, right-left,” Canales said. “And for a quick second I was like, ‘oh shoot.’ But I knew that Coach Amanda and the rest of our staff told me to trust the side that you’re always going to. I had been hitting it well to that side for a lot of the season. So I just had to hit it well and whatever happens, happens.”

While the Bruins were celebrating, Duke Head Coach Robbie Church had to console his players on the other side, including his goalkeeper who played well all season but saw four shots go past her in the penalty shootout.

“You just hug her and tell her you love her,” Church said. “She did the best she could and she did great.”

Canales finished as the game’s hero but that didn’t keep her teammates from literally dumping on the freshman afterwards.


Reflecting on Eight Years with The Mane Land

A look back over my time with The Mane Land (so far).



Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

As of last week, I have been a contributor at The Mane Land for eight years. That’s longer than I’ve ever been at any of my actual jobs in my life. There are literally only a couple of people who have been with the site longer, but I’m still amazed at how long it’s been. This is not to say I’m going anywhere, but rather I wanted to take the opportunity to look back at the past eight years, and look ahead to the future.

Unlike some, I didn’t come to be a supporter of Orlando City until it was announced that the club was joining MLS. At the time, I was contemplating picking a club to follow in MLS, but being in Tallahassee, there were no nearby options at that time. I considered FC Dallas and D.C. United, given the two were geographically closer in proximity to me than any others. Fortunately, it was literally while I was considering my options that the announcement was made regarding Orlando City’s jump to MLS. It was an easy decision.

As I do in many aspects of my life, I immediately started researching my new club, which led me to the content being produced by The Mane Land. There was also an article on the site titled “Join The Mane Land Staff.” I had often over the years internally bemoaned that I rarely used my Bachelor’s degree in English, and the desire to write welled up in me so much that I emailed the staff. 

In response, one of our former editors, Andrew Marcinko, contacted me and said “I think your voice would be a great fit on TML.” He asked me to submit a Fan Post (those went away with our presence on SBN), and then another piece for review. Following that, our founder and managing editor, Michael Citro, emailed me to welcome me to the staff. I had no idea at the time how big a part of my life this blog would become.

I started out writing Monday’s Lions Links — often one of the more difficult days to write — and a feature piece. It’s been many years gone by now, but there was a time when the feature piece was “Pride Pub,” an ongoing series that paired craft beer and good food based on Orlando City’s opponent. I can tell you that the research for that was very enjoyable, and I still use some of the recipes I found to this day.

Eventually, I started contributing more match coverage and analytical pieces. Staff came and went, but I never thought to leave since I was enjoying myself. Sometime after that, I was promoted to senior columnist, for which I’m grateful. I can without reservation say that I’m a better writer thanks to my time with the site, and from working with such excellent staff.

In November of 2016, Michael asked if I wanted to give co-hosting The Mane Land PawedCast a try. My first recording was for Episode 71. We just recorded Episode 354, and with the exception of maybe two or three episodes, I have been on every single one of 283 episodes over the last six plus years. Michael and I have spent a lot of time talking on and off the podcast over the years, and I’m proud of what we have produced and to call him my friend.

We recently added an Orlando Pride-specific podcast called Skopurp: An Orlando Pride PawedCast. For years we wanted to give the Pride the time and attention the club deserves. Now, it is a reality, but one that I ask you to listen to and share. I’ll even put out that although Michael and I are the current hosts, we merely consider ourselves stewards and are hoping to get others to come onboard and eventually take it to the next level.

When I started with The Mane Land, the site had just made the move from a free WordPress site to the SBNation network. It was a big deal, and for many years it was a good partnership. Of course that all came to an end not too long ago, and our blog went the independent route thanks to the incredibly generous support of our readers and listeners. In fact, if you want to be one of those supporting our efforts, please go to our Buy Me A Coffee site to become a member. The move has allowed a flexibility we didn’t have before, but I really want others to have the same sense of joy and accomplishment that I have as a member of our staff. 

At one point we had nearly twice the staff that we do now, and as you know, many hands make light work. The opposite of that is also true. I genuinely believe that there must be others out there with the same passion for Orlando City as I have — with the same desire to have their voice heard, whether through the written word or on a podcast. I promise you there is an opportunity to contribute here with us. Our internal discussions are informative, engaging, and often funny. Please consider joining us, as I did eight years ago. I haven’t regretted it and I know you won’t either.

I want to thank all of those who contributed to The Mane Land over the years. There are many that I am still in touch with, though they are no longer a part of the staff. Of course, the current staff are a pleasure to work with, and I appreciate their dedication to what we are trying to do.

Finally, I want to thank the readers and listeners over the years. From those who regularly comment on our articles, to those that I’ve personally met at matches or even randomly on the street, you are a big reason that we do all of this. You are a big reason why I’ve been doing this for the better part of a decade. it is always a genuine pleasure hearing your thoughts or simply sharing a moment of joy together — U.S. Open Cup final, anyone?

So, thank you. I look forward to many more years of this journey together.

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The Mane Land Announces Membership Program

Maximize your Mane Land experience with our new TML membership program while supporting our independent efforts.



Hello, readers of The Mane Land and listeners of our podcasts. Before you start reading this, please note that the most important part of this post is at the end. So, don’t stop until you get to the bottom.

You may recall that when we left SBNation to become independent, we really weren’t sure the best way to go about that. Many of our readers and listeners generously offered to help us make that transition, but we still weren’t sure the best path forward, so we took a poll.

The poll was pretty much split down the middle between those who preferred a one-time, Kickstarter-style campaign (which we did, and those of you who stepped up to help completely blew us away!) and those who favored a Patreon-style, subscription-based membership with extra perks. In fact, the member subscriptions option got a few more votes in our poll.

The folks who took part in our GoFundMe fundraiser were fantastic and are now immortalized on this very site on the “Our Founders” page. But we had always planned to give folks the option to choose whichever method of support they preferred and we tried to communicate that throughout the process. It took a little longer than expected to get up and running, but our membership subscription program is now in place! (You may notice the fancy new banner ad about it on the home page, echoed below.)

Supporting TML helps build a better TML for you to enjoy, so you’re really subscribing to your own Orlando soccer fandom.

Part of that delay was thinking up something that didn’t encroach on the benefits we gave our Founders. Those folks helped us get started and deserve the exclusivity of the perks they got. The other part of the delay is that there just aren’t enough hours in the day. (However, for you guys, I’m willing to be cloned.)

We have utilized the popular Buy Me a Coffee platform to run this program. You can find the basics here. The Mane Land premium membership program includes three tiers of membership, as well as the option to click on the “Support” tab for those who just want to help us out whenever, without joining the program or adding any recurring “appointment-based” payments to their budgets. We love that feature of Buy Me a Coffee (or “Buy Us a Beer” in our case…you drink what you like).

For those who do choose to become members, we hope we have provided value and we are planning to add benefits along the way, in addition to providing special giveaways, events, etc. (more on that below). We have also provided subscription options — with monthly or annual memberships. The annual cost essentially gives you 12 months for the price of 10.

Current Benefits

The current membership benefits depend on which level of support you choose — Homegrown Player, TAM Player, or Designated Player level. Each level includes all benefits from the lower tiers, with additional benefits for each higher level.

Homegrown Player: This is a basic set-it-and-forget-it level of support for The Mane Land, providing a way for our readers and podcast listeners to contribute to the success of TML‘s independence goals. We want to compensate our current volunteers, replace lost income of those who previously received small stipends from being part of the SBNation network, add photographers, attract new writers, and expand our coverage. Additionally, each Homegrown Player Level member will be recognized in a Lion Links column, which is still typically our most widely read post of each day and one of the top daily links columns among soccer sites. Homegrown Player Level members will also be included in any future prize drawings we have or events we host and may be subject to future benefits as they are added.

TAM Player: In addition to Homegrown Player benefits, TAM Players will receive a new weekly e-newsletter in their inbox (unless you opt out…some people hate email). These will be informal missives from myself, other TML writers, or a combination, discussing what’s on our mind regarding Orlando City, the Pride, OCB, or soccer in general. Think of it as an extra post from our site that may cover multiple topics. Additionally, you’ll get a 10% discount from our web shop items that we control (presently, that means everything except our listed MLS Shop items). We will definitely have more benefits coming for this level soon and will look for opportunities to include additional benefits as they become available.

Designated Player: This limited availability level of support includes all perks from the Homegrown and TAM levels, but it goes beyond. Your discount at our webshop (for items we control) will be 15% off. Additionally, we’ll send you Zoom links to watch us “make the doughnuts” whenever we record the podcast. This includes when we interview guests. You’ll see how the sausage is made behind the scenes and everything that we say, some of which will end up on the cutting room floor before the final podcast is sent out. This includes both The Mane Land PawedCast and SkoPurp Soccer: An Orlando Pride PawedCast. And after two months of membership you can commission a bonus episode of either podcast simply by letting us know what topic you want us to cover. Think of this as an extended Ask Us Anything. We’ll do a whole show about your topic and you can even join us to discuss it if you wish.

The DP Level will certainly have additional benefits tacked on as we move forward. It is currently limited to 40 members but could be expanded slightly depending on demand and our Zoom attendance.

Future Benefits / Benefits Under Consideration

While we won’t be able to schedule these due to the random nature of items falling into our hands, there will be periodic prize giveaways in drawings that include all of our members, regardless of level. The catch is that you get one entry per level of support, meaning Homegrown Player Level members will get one entry per prize drawing, TAM Player Level members will get two entries per drawing, and Designated Player Level members get three entries for prize drawings. Some of the kinds of items we have come across in the past include match tickets, trinkets, posters, scarves, and so on.

We are planning to add a message board to our website, well…soon-ish is the word that comes to mind. The plan for the message board is to build our community and further the discussion about the club. As part of this, we’re planning an exclusive, members-only area of that message board that TAM and DP members can access. This will be a place our staff can share informational nuggets we can’t necessarily write stories about for various reasons and interact with our members on a daily basis.

Other things in the works include meet-and-greets/watch parties where you can chat with TML staff members and catch a road match with a bunch of like-minded Orlando City/Pride fans while we all cheer on the team together. There may also be other informal outings with one or more members of the staff, organized fantasy leagues, random Zoom calls for Q&A sessions, and perhaps even some organized group outings for Orlando City / Pride matches, national team games, etc.

The Most Important Part of This Post

Remember at the top of this post, when I said the most important part is at the bottom? Well, that seems like a long time ago, now, so it’s OK if you’ve already forgotten.

The most important part of our membership program is you. We want your feedback so we can make this program something that interests and excites you. We want to know what you like and dislike about this program. We want to know if there are some things we didn’t think of that interest you. If you like what we’re offering, tell us! If you hate what we’re offering, we want to know what you’d prefer instead or in addition. If you want to go drinking with Dave, we can probably arrange that, but it’ll be a unique tier and we’ll have to figure out the cost of that.

No idea is too crazy to suggest, even if it’s too insane for us to actually offer. Let us know what you want from your subscription and we’ll see if that’s something we can do. We’ll make it easy for you by putting the form right here below this post, which is now concluded.

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Welcome Home!



Where do I even start? When we were told in January that SBNation was pulling its support of The Mane Land and other MLS and NHL blogs — and many podcasts — I was devastated. The site had become my new baby in September of 2014 and after eight and a half years, I wasn’t ready to let it go.

I was in a pickle. I couldn’t afford to lose the monthly stipend I had been getting from SBNation to manage the site and provide a steady stream of content. It wasn’t that it was a huge monthly sum, but it mostly covered my car payment. That car was purchased when my salary was higher. The pandemic hit my day job like it did to many, and after a four-month layoff, I got my old job back but not at the same rate. So, imagine taking a pay decrease at work and then, on top of that, losing the amount you spend per month on your car payment. There was simply no way to launch The Mane Land independently, I thought, because I simply couldn’t cover the startup costs. Even with some generous offers from the staff to pitch in, there simply wasn’t a way.

Once we took the news public, there was an outpouring of support on social media. We appreciated both the pledges to help out that we got from the community and the signal boosting that the national media gave blogs like ours. Those national folks rely on local reporting for background.

Encouraged by this outpouring of public support, I met with the TML staff and we threw some ideas around. We polled our Twitter followers to see how our community would prefer to show their support. We got pretty close to a 50/50 split between those who wanted to provide a one-time donation via a Kickstarter or GoFundMe crowdsourcing effort, and those who would prefer some sort of premium subscription add-on service like Patreon or Buy Me a Coffee.

We didn’t get a lot of responses to that poll, but we decided as a group that since the results were so similar, we would offer both and let the public choose one path, the other, or even both. (Stay tuned for news soon-ish on the premium subscription level, but rest assured, everything you’ve been getting for free at TML will remain free!)

I was, admittedly, skeptical that we could raise enough startup money to create a private business, pay for hosting a new site and two podcasts (having long wanted to give the Orlando Pride their own unique show), registering a domain, paying for some design work and consulting, and any unexpected expenses that might come up. However, I thought we’d at least give it a try.

Then the amazing Orlando City, Orlando Pride, and TML community got involved. You guys pushed us past our bare minimum goal in just four and a half hours when our fundraiser went live on March 1. We reset our goal and you met that by midnight. We reset our goal again, to the dream total we discussed on our initial staff Zoom chat and you met that by that first weekend.

Stunned. Humbled. Amazed. Touched. All of these words apply to how that made us feel, but they don’t quite cover it. I think we all felt an enormous responsibility, as well. We felt a mandate to provide you the best site and the best coverage we can.

We got everything we needed to run the site for two years, even if we don’t earn a penny after our launch — and we plan to try, via advertising, a Patreon (or similar) program, an online shop, affiliate links, and anything else we can think of. But we decided to leave the GoFundMe open through the end of March, just in case there were folks who wanted to contribute but needed to wait for payday, or if more people wanted to become founding members of this new site.

Now, here we are. You guys did this. We’re here because of you. And this site isn’t quite what it will become. I’m still learning my way around WordPress, after being away from it for years. There’s more to build, and some of the things you’re seeing on this site now will be improved in the future. We’ll continue to tweak it, add things, and upgrade as we go.

For now, I just want to welcome you to your new online home. On behalf of our entire staff, I thank our founding members, who are now immortalized on this site in our founders section. If you weren’t able to contribute to our transition from SBNation’s network to an autonomous and independent, new version of The Mane Land, you can thank the folks on our founders page, because without them, we wouldn’t be here. And if you still want to help out, we’ve got more things on the way.


Michael Citro
Managing Editor

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