It’s tournament time, and that means drama. A young star with an incredible backstory scored the winner in a River City Rumble, a freshman came off the bench to give her school a conference championship and two local stars earned top overall seeds in the NCAA Division I women’s tournament. Here’s a look at some of the college soccer highlights from the past week.
* Jacksonville University came out on top of the year’s second River City Rumble, and they did it in dramatic fashion. Selemani Baruani scored the game-winning goal, his first for the Dolphins, to defeat North Florida in Friday’s Atlantic Sun Conference opening round. Igor Ferreira had scored earlier in the game for JU, answering after Micah Smoak tallied the opener for the Ospreys.
For more on Baruani’s journey from central Africa to Jacksonville, check out Matt Soergel’s profile story from last week on jacksonville.com.
* The Dolphins then followed up by upsetting Stetson 2-1 in overtime in Sunday’s semifinals. Alberto Escobedo scored the game-winner in double overtime. Again, Ferreira scored the first goal for JU. Goalkeeper Patrick Harding (St. Johns Country Day) made five saves. JU next advances to the A-Sun final at 7 p.m. against Lipscomb, with a chance to advance to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008.
* Josh Castellanos (Nease) joined Juanes Fajardo and Smoak as UNF players selected to the A-Sun second team, while Adrian Nunez was named to the first team. JU’s Kai Bennett also earned a spot on the second team.
* Senior defender Michael Melvin (Nease) scored one of the penalties in a shootout for No. 9 Clemson as the Tigers defeated Syracuse 2-2 (4-3) in the ACC first round. Clemson next meets Wake Forest in Wednesday’s semifinal in Winston-Salem, N.C.
* Flagler College saw its season end with a 1-0 loss to Clayton State in the first round of the Peach Belt tournament.
* Kevin Shields (Ponte Vedra) made four saves for College of Charleston in a 2-1 win against Elon during the opening round of the CAA tournament.
* Ricky Prestridge (Ridgeview) scored a pair of goals for Columbia International, defeating Brewton-Parker 3-1 in its season finale. He finished as the Rams’ leader with five goals this season.
* The 19-game winning streak for Duke and Chelsea Burns (St. Johns Country Day) finally came to an end Sunday, when the Blue Devils lost 1-0 in the ACC championship game to archrival North Carolina. Earlier in the week, Burns had set up the game-winning goal as Duke beat Virginia 1-0 in the semifinals.
* Freshman Leah Ferlin (Bolles) had a dream end to her first conference tournament. Coming off the bench, she scored the deciding penalty kick in a shootout to give USF the American Athletic Conference title against UCF. As a bonus, USF now earns a direct spot in the NCAA tournament.
* Midfielder Becca Palmer (Bartram Trail) is also tournament-bound after High Point topped Longwood 1-0 to win the Big South championship.
* Also heading to the NCAA tournament: Former Oakleaf defender Lindsey Patton. She helped Florida Gulf Coast shut out JU 2-0 in the A-Sun semifinals, then started a wild final as the Eagles rallied from two goals down to defeat Lipscomb 3-2 in overtime.
* In Division II, Olivia Jarrell (St. Augustine) scored a goal and an assist in Columbus State’s 5-0 Gulf South Conference win against Lander. That brought her season total to 17 goals and 10 assists.
* Former St. Johns Country Day defender Megan Rogers helped Navy shut out Colgate 3-0 and advance to the Patriot League final. In the title game, though, Navy lost 3-2 to Bucknell.
* Also in the Gulf South tournament, goalkeeper Alyssa Curtis (Palatka) saved two shots in a penalty shootout to help Valdosta State beat North Alabama after regulation ended 3-3. Lexie Hall (Fletcher) and Megan Muffley (Mandarin) both scored penalties for the Blazers during the shootout. Valdosta State later lost to Lee 5-1 in the semifinal.
* Goalkeeper Kaitlyn Romero (Mandarin) earned a shutout as Southeastern topped USC Beaufort 8-0 in The Sun Conference tournament.
* Freshman Taylor Hults (Creekside) scored her fourth goal of the season for Thomas, which lost 3-1 to St. Thomas in The Sun Conference quarterfinals.
NCAA tournament draw
Here are opening-round pairings for teams with local players in the NCAA women’s tournament:
No. 1 Duke (Chelsea Burns, St. Johns Country Day) vs. UNC-Greensboro
No. 1 South Carolina (Jackie Schaefer, Fletcher) vs. Alabama State
No. 2 UCF (Madison Murnin, Sandalwood) vs. Washington State
No. 2 West Virginia (Danielle Gordon, Atlantic Coast) vs. Bucknell
No. 3 Florida (Kit Loferski, Bartram Trail; Danielle Van Liere, Fletcher) vs. South Alabama
No. 4 Florida State (Angeline Daly, Ponte Vedra) vs. Ole Miss
Alabama (Kristin Sandifer, Ponte Vedra) vs. Clemson
Auburn (Courtney Schell, Bartram Trail) vs. Hofstra
High Point (Becca Palmer, Bartram Trail) vs. No. 1 North Carolina
Rice (Lianne Mananquil, Stanton) vs. Baylor
TCU (Tanner Wallace, Episcopal) vs. Arizona
USF (Leah Ferlin, Bolles) vs. Florida Gulf Coast (Lindsey Patton, Oakleaf)
Vanderbilt (Leila Azari, Bolles) vs. Ohio State
West Florida (Grayson Sheets, Bartram Trail; Jessica Quixley, Creekside; Hannah Wooten, Fletcher; Madison Atkins, Yulee) vs. North Alabama
Flagler (Hannah Dolores, Creekside; Abby Austin & Brooke DeLauder, both Fleming Island; Maddison Lipson, Sandalwood) vs. Limestone (Savannah Markey, Bartram Trail; Jordan Nearing, Palatka)
Columbus State (Olivia Jarrell, St. Augustine) vs. Flagler-Limestone winner
Florida Tech (Lissy Stoffel, Clay) vs. Lee
Nova Southeastern (Lizzy Haizlip, St. Johns Country Day) vs. Florida Tech-Lee winner
UC-Colorado Springs (Hanna Parado, Ponte Vedra) vs. Angelo State-West Texas A&M winner
No. 1 Chicago (Rachel Dias, Bolles) vs. St. Catherine
Fleming Island senior Mackenzie Ayers announced her commitment to Florida Southern on Saturday. She would become the fourth local on the Mocs’ roster, joining Madi Colaw (Keystone Heights), Elanee Otto (Christ’s Church) and Megan Styron (Orange Park).