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Dallas Center-Grimes claims 2A title, lands at No. 8 in soccer rankings

(Photo courtesy of the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union)

Dallas Center-Grimes (Iowa) wasn’t satisfied with a state championship appearance. After losing in the state final last year and the state semifinals three years ago, the Mustangs had what they called “unfinished business.”

This time, Dallas Center finished its season on top, capping off a perfect 22-0 campaign with a 2-0 win over familiar nemesis Waverly-Shell Rock in the Class 2A state championship on Saturday. After losing to Shell Rock in the last two postseasons, it was Dallas Center’s turn to triumph.

Avery Korsching scored the decisive goal, a fitting end for a senior who had 36 goals and 19 assists on the season. With Korsching leading the way, the Mustangs scored 105 goals, and the defense conceded just 10 goals for a plus-95 goal difference.

Thanks to those gaudy numbers, a 22-game winning streak and the sought-after state title, Dallas Center makes its first appearance in the latest JWS high school soccer rankings, vaulting up to No. 8.

Click here to see last week’s rankings.

(Note: These rankings do not include teams from Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Nebraska, Oklahoma and South Carolina as their seasons have concluded.)

1. South County (Va.), 20-0-1

Following a 4-3 quarterfinal win Tuesday, the Stallions are just two wins away from a second consecutive Class 6A championship and undefeated season.

2. Fort Zumwalt South (Mo.), 26-1

The Bulldogs outscored opponents 25-4 during a postseason run that culminated with a second consecutive Class 3A title.

3. Triad (Ill.), 25-1

Gina Catanzaro’s 26th goal of the season propelled the Knights to their second consecutive state championship, and fourth in the last 11 years. En route to the Class 2A title, the Knights also beat Waterloo, avenging their only loss of the season.

4. Metea Valley (Ill.), 22-2-1

It took regulation, overtime and then nine rounds of penalty kicks, but the Mustangs are state champions for the first time in program history. Metea Valley ended the season on a 14-game winning streak and outscored postseason opponents 15-2 to win the 3A title.

5. St. Dominic (Mo.), 23-3

Perennial contenders, the Crusaders struggled at times during the regular season, suffering two shutout losses and a 4-1 defeat less than a week before postseason play began. But behind seniors Grace Bindbeutel (23 goals, 11 assists), Jessica Larson (13 goals, 12 assists) and Macie Begley (14 goals, 9 assists), St. Dominic rebounded to win their third consecutive state title.

6. Oregon (Wis.), 19-0-1

The Panthers have dominated this spring, outscoring opponents 134-6, and are two wins away from a sectional title.

7. Cardinal Gibbons (N.C.), 16-6-2

The Crusaders won just two of their first eight games. But they got better as the season progressed, ending the season on an 11-game winning streak and knocking off Ardrey Kell in penalty kicks to win the NCHSAA 4A title.

8. Dallas Center (Iowa), 22-0

The Mustangs have plenty of returning talent. Aside from senior Korsching, the team’s four other all-state selections should all be back next season: junior goalkeeper Maya Fritz, junior midfielder Elena Bartak and sophomore midfielders Kylie Knief and Hannah Renz.

9. Hudsonville (Mich.), 18-0-2

The Eagles have outscored opponents 8-1 in three postseason games and allowed just three goals since the start of May.

10. Northville (Mich.), 15-0-5

The Mustangs have ridden a stingy defense, just five goals allowed and 15 shutouts, to an undefeated record.

11. Kellam (Va.), 17-1

After a quarterfinal win over previously-ranked Battlefield, the Knights now face No. 1 South County in the state semifinals.

12. Yorktown (Va.), 19-1-1

South Carolina commit Shay Montgomery was involved in all four of the Patriots’ tallies with two goals and two assists during a 4-0 quarterfinal win.

13. Ankeny Centennial (Iowa), 19-3

The Jaguars avenged their three regular-season losses in the state tournament to win the 3A state championship.

14. Ardrey Kell (N.C.), 25-2-1

The Knights once again fell just short of a first-ever state championship, losing in the state final for the fourth time in program history.

15. Providence Day (N.C.), 18-4

The Chargers tested themselves against top-tier competition during the regular season, and that experience paid off in the postseason with a NCISAA 4A championship. With the win, in a penalty shootout, Providence Day avenged a regular-season defeat to Charlotte Latin.

Phillip Suitts is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports. He has worked at a variety of outlets, including The Palm Beach Post and Southeast Missourian, and done a little bit of everything from reporting to editing to running social media accounts. He was born in Atlanta but currently lives in wintry Philadelphia. Follow Phillip on Twitter @PhillipSuitts.

Rose Lavelle hoping to return to play ‘in the next couple of weeks’

uswnt midfielder rose lavalle trains on a soccer field in florida
When healthy, Rose Lavelle is a trusted asset in the USWNT's midfield. (Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

Rose Lavelle is hoping to return to the field soon. 

The 28-year-old midfielder has been sidelined with a lower leg injury since the Gold Cup in early march. Since then, she has yet to play for new club Gotham FC in the NWSL. She also missed a potential USWNT appearance at the SheBelieves Cup in April, where senior team newcomer Jaedyn Shaw saw success assuming Lavelle's role in the attacking midfield. 

At the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee media showcase on Monday, Lavelle told reporters that she’s doing well and hopes to be back soon.

"I’m doing good — I’m hoping I’ll be back in the next couple weeks," Lavelle said. "It’s frustrating to start the year off with an injury, just because I feel like you come off preseason and you’re revving to go, so it’s so annoying."

Lavelle is still looking to compete for one of just 18 Olympic roster spots. When healthy, she ranks as one of the national team’s most trusted assets, but considering this most recent injury, her health is an obvious concern. Faced with an onslaught of experienced competitors and young talent, incoming USWNT coach Emma Hayes will have some big decisions to make when selecting the Paris-bound squad — a reality Lavelle seems to be taking in stride as she works to regain full fitness.

"We have so many special players, we have so much depth, and so many different weapons to utilize on and off the bench," Lavelle said. "Unfortunately that means really good players are going to get left off, too. And I think for all of us, it’s just about being ready for whatever role is given to us, embracing that, and looking to put it into a collective picture so that we can go into the Olympics ready to go."

Kate Paye tapped to take VanDerveer’s place at Stanford

new stanford head coach kate paye spins a basketball on the court
Stanford associate head coach Kate Paye has officially been promoted to head women's basketball coach. (Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports)

Stanford has found its replacement for legendary head women's basketball coach Tara VanDerveer in associate head coach Kate Paye.

The Cardinal confirmed the hiring on Tuesday via a press release. Paye was largely expected to replace the longtime head coach, as the college mentioned they were still negotiating Paye's contract when they announced VanDerveer's retirement.

In Tuesday's statement, Paye reported that she was "humbled" to have been tapped to lead the women’s program.

"Stanford University has been a central part of my life for as long as I can remember and I am humbled to have the opportunity to lead its women’s basketball program," Paye said. "I’d first like to thank Tara, who has played such a pivotal role in my career for her friendship and guidance. It’s not what she’s done, but how she’s done it, that has had such a profound impact upon me."

A Woodside, California native, Paye played under VanDerveer from 1992 to 1995, taking home a national title her freshman year. After graduation, Paye briefly joined San Diego State as an assistant coach before making her professional debut with the ABL's Seattle Reign in 1996. After finishing her playing career with the WNBA's Seattle Storm, she joined the team’s coaching staff in 2007 and has been with the organization ever since, picking up another national title win — this time as associate head coach — in 2021. Paye's brother John played quarterback for Stanford from 1983 to 1986, while also serving as a point guard on the basketball team.

In her own response, VanDerveer said that she was "grateful" that Stanford picked Paye to follow in her stead. Last week, the decorated coach stated that this year would be her last after 38 seasons at the helm and three national titles under her belt.

"She has long been ready for this opportunity and is the perfect leader for Stanford at this time of immense change in college athletics," VanDerveer noted. "Kate was the choice for this job and I am confident she will achieve great success as head coach."

After a record-breaking Draft Night, WNBA roster cuts loom

2023 WNBA no. 1 draft pick Aliyah Boston playing for the indiana fever
Despite going No. 1 overall in the 2023 WNBA Draft, Aliyah Boston had to fight hard to make it onto Indiana's roster. (Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

The 2024 WNBA Draft has officially concluded, leaving the newly minted rookie class facing a tough road ahead.

Only 144 roster slots are available throughout the league’s 12 teams, the reason why the players are sometimes referred to as the “144.” And Monday’s draft picks are set to join a large group of established players competing for those same roster spots, from seasoned veterans to young athletes determined to prove their value on the court.

Last year, just 15 of the league’s 36 draftees made it onto their drafting team's opening-day squad.

In reality, there are oftentimes fewer than 144 spots available, as not every team maxes out their roster. Per the league's CBA, each team roster must maintain a minimum standard of 11 players, but those lists can include players out with injuries or on other forms of leave. Players can also be assigned to short-term hardship contracts, something waived players must be prepared for at any point during the season.

Earlier this week, Laeticia Amihere — a 2022 national champion with South Carolina who currently plays for the Atlanta Dream — took to TikTok to provide some insight into the WNBA training camp process. 

"You can either get drafted on Draft Night, or you can get signed by a team," she said. "Once that happens, you go to training camp literally like two weeks later... Basically everybody's got to try out. There's 12 roster spots, and there's like 18 people at the at the trial."

@laeticiaamihere Replying to @dantavius.washington #wnba #draft ♬ original sound - Laeticia Amihere

Amihere also had an important point to make: Getting cut does not signify a player’s abilities. 

"If you get cut after training camp, that does not mean you're not good," she said. "That does not mean that player sucks, don't stop supporting that player. Literally, there's so many reasons somebody can get cut."

"If you guys look at the best players in the league, most of them have bounced around teams," she added. "And I promise you it is not a bad thing, it's just how the league is."

Things, however gradually, are changing. With Golden State's WNBA team scheduled to launch in time for the 2025 season, league expansion is just around the corner. On Monday, Commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced that the league is aiming to grow to 16 teams by 2028. But by then, it might be too little too late for the generation of talent emerging from an increasingly competitive NCAA system.

WNBA draft shatters records with 2.45 million viewers

wide shot of BAM during the 2024 WNBA Draft
It wasn't just attendees that were glued to the on-stage action at the 2024 WNBA Draft. (Photo by Melanie Fidler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Monday night’s WNBA draft added to the nationwide uptick in record-breaking women's sports viewership, pulling in 2.45 million viewers throughout the nearly two-hour broadcast and peaking at 3.09 million, according to an ESPN release. 

That number shatters the previous draft viewership record — 601,000 in 2004 — which was fueled primarily by then-No. 1 pick Diana Taurasi entering the league after UConn's historic three-peat March Madness performance.  

The 2023 WNBA draft drew 572,000 viewers, the most for any televised WNBA event since 2.74 million tuned in to NBC for a Memorial Day matchup between the New York Liberty and Houston Comets back in 2000.

While many came to watch Caitlin Clark get drafted No. 1 overall, it’s important to note that viewership didn’t take a massive dip after the superstar shooter left the stage. The numbers show that a bulk of the audience stuck around to watch the remainder of the show, making 2024's event not just the most-viewed WNBA draft in history, but also the most-viewed WNBA program to ever air on ESPN platforms.

Draft Day's popularity is yet another sign indicating an expected rise in WNBA regular season viewership. Clark and Iowa's NCAA tournament showdown with the Chicago Sky-bound Kamilla Cardoso's South Carolina side drew a record 18.7 million to ABC's Sunday afternoon broadcast. Banking on this trend, 36 of Indiana's upcoming 40 games are set to be shown on national television. In-person ticket sales are also soaring, leading the defending WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces to re-home their matchup with the Fever to a venue that can accommodate some 6,000 more fans.

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