Russell and Upton set for NCAA showdown

Former Old Alex and Hermes starlet Emma Russell will line out against Limerick’s Roisin Upton on Friday afternoon bidding to take another big step closer to the NCAA crown in the semi-final of the US university competition.

Russell – along with former Ballyclare Academy player Zoe Wilson – will play for Syracuse University against title holders, the UConn Huskies, who are captained by Upton in a repeat of last year’s final.

Syracuse University's Emma Russell.

Syracuse University’s Emma Russell.

Russell has once again been a marquee player for Syracuse, helping them to the final four for the fourth time in their history. Indeed, the Enniskerry native has played in three of those campaigns in 2012, 2014 and 2015.

She has scored 13 times in 19 outings this season, along with five assists, and will be hoping to finally get one over UConn. Her side have only won nine times in 38 prior ties with the Huskies with th Cuse’s last win in 2012.

Her side will also look to Liz Sack to continue her hot streak, scoring four times in the 2015 NCAA tournament in wins over University of Massachussets (4-2) and Princeton (5-0).

Syracuse are rated as the number one seed in the competition but they face a Huskies side who are experts of the knock-out format in recent years, winning the last two titles.

Upton’s side saw off Lousiville University – with Ayeisha McFerran between the posts – 3-0 in the round of 16 before beating Boston University 1-0 in the quarter-finals.

Those wins have extended their winning streak to 35 games, dating back to 2014, during which the side had conceded just 26 goals and scored 171 times.

Upton has scored 15 of those goals in just 17 starts this season with 13 assists to make her one of the highest rated players in the US. Indeed, she was named the Big East defensive player of the week three times this term and has joined a rare-group in the college to surpass 100-points – a combination of goals and assists system used in the US.

The two sides will battle to earn a place in the NCAA final that takes place on Sunday. Unranked Duke University are the outsiders against University of North Carolina in the other semi-final.

** You can watch Syracuse University vs UConn Huskies live online here: http://www.ncaa.com/championship/liveplayer/player?gameId=1511191

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