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MORNING BRIEFING: Conference play goes down to wire
by Paul Kennedy, November 3rd, 2008 8AM



UCLA moved into first place in the Pac-10 with a 1-0 win over Stanford in a battle of undefeated teams. The WCC will go down to the wire as Portland and San Diego, both 6-0-0, meet next Saturday for the WCC title. Play wrapped up this weekend in other major conferences, where North Carolina (ACC) and Oklahoma State (Big 12) were crowned regular-season champions. Penn State and Minnesota shared the Big Ten title, while Florida and LSU claimed divisional crowns in the SEC.

Senior Christina DiMartino broke a scoreless tie with a bending shot from 25 yards in the 77th minute, lifting UCLA past Stanford.

With the win, along with their 3-0 win over Cal on Sunday, the Bruins move into sole possession of first place in the Pac-10 with two games remaining. They have won 17 straight Pac-10 games dating back to the 2006 season.

"It was a matchup featuring two very skilled teams and anytime you have that, usually one goal is going to decide it at this level," said UCLA coach Jillian Ellis. "Fortunately we were the ones to come out on top tonight."

Stanford's best chance on the night came in the 65th minute when Christen Press hit the crossbar on a header from about 12 yards out.

ACC. Casey Nogueira's conference-leading 19th goal of the season in the 84th minute gave North Carolina a 1-0 win over Miami (Fla.) that clinched its 19th ACC regular-season championship in 22 years. Florida State, which had tied UNC, 2-2, on Thursday night, finished second after its 5-2 win over N.C. State. In a pair of upsets, Virginia fell to Wake Forest, 1-0, at home on Amy Smerdzinski's goal in the 60th minute. Duke lost to Virginia Tech by the same score on a goal by Laurie Beth Puglisi.

BIG TEN. Penn State and Minnesota shared the Big Ten championship when Penn State fell, 1-0, to Ohio State and Minnesota defeated, Iowa, 1-0. The Lions lost on a header by Ashley Bowyer but still earned a share of its 11th consecutive Big Ten championship. Freshman Tam Strahota scored the only goal of the match early in the second half for her fifth game-winning goal for the Gophers.

BIG 12. Oklahoma State claimed its first Big 12 Conference regular-season championship Friday night with a 4-2 win over Oklahoma at the OU Soccer Complex. The Cowgirls got goals from Kyndall Treadwell, Annika Niemeier, Siera Strawser and Melinda Mercado.

SEC. Roslyn Jones scored in the second minute and Melissa Clarke added a pair of goals in a 38-second span in the second half to give LSU a 3-1 win over Arkansas that gave the Tigers their second-straight SEC Western Division championship. Florida had previously clinched the Eastern Division and finished with a 11-0-0 record.
WCC. Jen Mello scored a pair of goals to lead San Diego to a 3-2 win over Gonzaga and remain in a first-place tie with Portland at 6-0-0. The Pilots blasted slumping Santa Clara, 4-0, thanks to a pair of goals by Sophie Schmidt and goals by Megan Rapinoe and Michelle Enyeart. The wins set up a battle for the WCC championship next Saturday when UP comes to Torero Stadium. USD will be vying for its first conference championship in program history.

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