NCAA: And then there were two

Former Holy Child Killiney student Emma Russell, with Syracuse University, and Crescent College’s Roisin Upton, with the UConn Huskies, still have their NCAA hopes in tact following the first two rounds of playoff action in the US.

Russell was once again among the stars for the Orange with her 20th goal of the season in the quarter-final win over Penn State on Sunday after Boston University were eliminated a day earlier.

The number four ranked Syracuse advances to its third NCAA Final Four in the program’s history after a 3-1 win against Penn at JS Coyne Stadium. It marks the second time in three seasons that Syracuse will play in the national semi-finals.

“We were outstanding,” head coach Ange Bradley commented. “We moved the ball incredibly well. We moved well off counters. I thought our passing game was really good today. It hasn’t sunk in yet. I’m just so proud of these women. They are a really special group.”

Russell got the first goal inside six minutes when freshman forward Laura Hurff picked out the Enniskerry woman who netted with her 41st career goal in orange, making her the Cuse’s third highest scorer of all-time.

For good measure, Russell was named in the All Mid-East Region first team honours list, yet another accolade for a fine season. Further goals from Lauren Brooks and Lies Lagerweij – from the Netherlands – saw the side advance to the final four.

The Orange will take on No. 1 North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament semi-finals on Friday in College Park, Maryland. at 2pm (local time).

On the other side of the draw, Upton’s Huskies are going for a second successive title having beaten Stanford 3-1 in their quarter-final, bringing their season’s tally to 18 wins and two losses on Sunday with 11 wins in a row.

Connecticut will play Albany on Friday after the Great Danes upset number two seed Maryland in the quarter-finals earlier on Sunday.

Connecticut set the tone early, connecting for the first score of the game just 80 seconds in to the game before a pair of Charlotte Veitner goals and while Stanford got one back, they were home and hosed.

** To hear Roisin Upton’s video, check out the video below

For the other Irish players involved, Rebecca Barry’s senior year season – along with Amy Cooke’s – with the Richmond Spiders came to an end with a 3-1 loss to the Liberty Flames at the play-in game.

The Flames, featuring Barr sisters Bethany, Serena and Nathalie were part of that Liberty team before being edged out by North Carolina.

Lisa McCarthy was in the starting line-up for Northwestern University but they bowed out to Duke 2-1 in Chapel Hill in the last 16. Trish O’Dwyer’s University of Monmouth lost 4-3 in their play-in game against Princeton.

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