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A Few Things You Might Want To Know About The Thirty-Two Teams Remaining In The NCAA Tournament

The second round of the NCAA Tournament will take place on Sunday, November 24 at venues across the country.  

Virginia (17-1-1) – Number one seed Virginia may be the best in the country on the defensive side of the ball but it is the improvement that they have made in their big play ability on the offensive side of the ball that has taken the Cavaliers to a higher level.  Their come from behind win over Duke in Durham early in the year and their recent come from behind win over Clemson in the ACC Tournament final are good examples of the offensive punch this team has that they lacked last year.

Campbell (17-2-2) – The Camels have flown under the radar on the national scene for most of the year but anytime a team wins seventeen contests they should be taken seriously.  Campbell is among the most productive teams in the country on the offensive side of the ball and has also been solid defensively allowing a total of only fifteen goals to date.

Syracuse (8-6-5) – There are a lot of ways to describe Ian McIntyre's Syracuse team in 2019 but predictable would not be one of them.  This is a team that lost to Duke 4-0 on the road and Clemson 7-4 at home but defeated NC State 3-0 in Raleigh and scored three goals in the final twenty minutes of play to come from two goals down to defeat North Carolina in Chapel Hill 4-3.  Unpredictable but dangerous.

Saint John's (13-4-1) – Dr. David Masur and assistant coaches David Janezic and Flo Liu have done a good job of merging together the individual talents of the Johnnies this year but the Red Storm seems to have lost its momentum after a 3-0 loss to Georgetown back on October 23.  The Red Storm are 1-2-1 since that loss.  A win over Syracuse in the second round would be just what the doctor ordered.

UCF (14-2-0) – The Knights were one and done in the NCAA Tournament last year when they were shocked at home by Lipscomb in a contest in which UCF was unable to finish the scoring opportunities that came their way. UCF comes into their NCAA Tournament contest with Missouri State off a 1-0 loss to SMU in the AAC Tournament title game in which they were shutout for the first time this year. UCF has a multi-dimensional attack but senior forward Cal Jennings (16g, 4a) is the key to the effectiveness of their offense.   

Missouri State (18-0-1) – Defense has been Missouri State's calling card under veteran head coach Jon Leamy. This year the Bears have allowed a total of only eleven goals. Their 3-2 win in overtime against Valparaiso was the only contest so far this year that they have allowed more than one goal. While defense continues to play a key role, it is the improvement on the offensive side of the ball that has enabled Missouri State to win the close contests this year that eluded them in the past.  Forwards Matthew Bentley (14g, 4a) and Josh Dolling (7g, 5a) lead a Missouri State attack that has found the back of the net forty-one times. 

Coastal Carolina (10-7-3) – Balance between offensive productivity and defensive effectiveness has been a problem at times this year for Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers had a five game streak during the middle of the season during which they were 0-4-1. During that period of time they uncharacteristically failed to score losing four contests by a 1-0 margin and recording a 0-0 tie.  They are now back on track with an attack led by Tyrone Mondi (7g, 4a) and Sam Snaith (8g, 1a) but they will have to play well on both sides of the ball in order to keep their season alive.

SMU (16-1-1) – The Mustangs are at their very best when they are able to dominate the run of play in the middle third.  Accordingly, the play of midfielders Gabriel Costa (7g, 10a), Knut Alhlander (7g, 11a), Nicky Hernandez (5g, 2a), Noah Hilt (2g, 1a), and Lane Warrington (0g,2a) will be a key factor in how far SMU advances in the NCAA Tournament.

Indiana (14-2-4) – Todd Yeagley has done an excellent job of merging his newcomers in with returning players and making the modifications in play needed to maximize  the strengths of his team. The play of freshmen forwards Victor Bezerra (5g, 3a), Joshua Penn (6g, 2a) and Herbert Endeley (2g, 3a), midfielder Aidan Morris (2g, 6a), and goalkeeper Roman Celentano has been the big story at Indiana this year. But at the end of the day midfielders redshirt junior Spencer Glass (3g, 4a) and sophomore Joe Schmidt (1g, 1a) and defenders redshirt junior A.J. Palazzolo (3g, 3a), senior Simon Waever (0g, 3a) and sophomore Jack Maher (4g, 2a) will set the pace for IU when push comes to shove in the NCAA Tournament.

Kentucky (13-4-3) – This is a very talented team but in order to make a run in the NCAA Tournament and advance past an Indiana team that they tied 0-0 during regular season play Kentucky will need to put together a full ninety minutes of play. The Wildcats match up well with Indiana but chances are pretty good that they will come out on the short end if they come out flat and don't put in a full shift.

UC Santa Barbara (13-4-4) – The Gauchos seek to regain the edge that the program once had. They looked good in a first round 3-1 win over a California team that beat them in regular season play. UCSB has a chance to make a run in the NCAA Tourney if they continue to play at the same level of intensity. Backs Noah Billingsley and Hunter Ashworth, forward Rodney Michael and midfielder Thibault Candia are among those who will set the pace.

Saint Mary's College (16-1-0) – Again, you don't win sixteen games without being very good.  The Gaels dominated the West Coast Conference this year becoming the first team to ever go 7-0-0 in conference play.  The lone blemish on their record this year was a 4-2 loss to Big West foe UC Davis. Saint Mary's has scored a total of forty-seven goals while allowing only eleven.  A good run in the NCAA Tournament is the next logical step in the development of this program.

Michigan (11-4-5) – Michigan is undefeated in their last seven games.  They have an explosive attack powered by Nebojsa Popovic (10g, 3a), Jack Hallahan (5g, 6a) and Marc Ybarra (0g, 8a) but it is their play on the defensive side of the ball that is going to determine how they fare in the NCAA Tournament.

Wright State (11-8-3) – It has been a year of firsts for the Raiders. Their first Horizon League championship, their first berth in the NCAA Tournament, and their first NCAA Tournament win. Wright State has a productive multi-dimensional offense led by midfielders Deri Corte (13g, 8a), Jackson Dietrich (6g, 7a) and Stefan Rokvic (9g, 5a) and forward Ids Hannema.  The Raiders are a more competitive team than their record indicates and it is a plus that they have played well on the road this year. If they can contain Michigan's attack they have a chance of pulling off another upset.    

Maryland (11-7-2) – It is always wise to Fear the Turtle. The defending national champions dominated Iona 4-0 to advance to the second round. Maryland is at their best when they are able to pressure their opponent. Their ability to do that is impacted by their effectiveness on the defensive side of the ball. The play of freshman netminder Niklas Neumann and backs Ben and Matt Di Rosa, Johannes Bergmann and Brett St. Martin will have an impact on just how much pressure they are able to apply. St. Martin left the Iona contest after twelve minutes of play due to injury and was replaced by Chris Rindov.   

Wake Forest (13-4-2) – When they are clicking the Demon Deacons are among the best teams in the country.  Wake Forest has not played their best soccer of the year down the homestretch.  Their second round match against Maryland has a little of the same feel as their second round match last year when they were upset by Akron. This is a very good Wake Forest team but they need to regain the rhythm that they had earlier in the season.  A win over Maryland would be a big momentum builder.

Georgetown (15-1-3) – The Hoyas won both the Big East regular season and tournament titles. You don't do that without being good on both sides of the ball.  The only team that can keep Georgetown from advancing to the College Cup is Georgetown. If Brian Wiese's team plays to their potential they should continue along the road to Cary, North Carolina.

Pittsburgh (10-7-2) – Pitt has continually improved under Jay Vidovich who is now in his fourth season as the Panther head coach. The Panthers took a big step forward when they topped Lehigh in the first round to earn the program's first ever win in NCAA Tournament play. Under Vidovich, Pitt has learned how to win but whether they have the depth and the discipline to make a sustained run in the NCAA Tournament remains to be seen.  Edward Kizza (12g, 4a) is the real deal up top.

Louisville (9-7-2) – It is not easy to travel cross country and play but that is exactly what Louisville is faced with when they tangle with a good UC Davis team out of the Big West Conference.  The Cardinals have had an up and down season. If they are on their game and are able to press the attack they are a very dangerous team. If Louisville starts slow and has to chase UC Davis they will be in trouble. Cherif Dieye (7g, 6a) is the key to Louisville's attack.

UC Davis (13-4-2) – The Aggies have a chance to make a statement against Louisville out of the Atlantic Coast Conference.  UC Davis plays very well as a team on both sides of the ball which is a big plus. Goalkeeper Willis Lapsley and centerbacks Nabi Kibunguchy and Jake Haupt anchor an Aggie defense that is among the best in the country but will be tested by Louisville.  Forward Adam Mickelson (4g, 6a) is the catalyst on the offense side of the ball. 

Marshall (15-2-3) – The Thundering Herd is having their best season in program history. They won both the CUSA regular season and tournament titles and earned the program's first ever invite to the NCAA Tournament.  Marshall is among the most balanced teams in the country with an attack that has produced forty-four goals and a defense that has only allowed fifteen. The key for Marshall is to continue to do the things well that have worked for them all year.  However, that can be difficult to do when a program is traveling in uncharted waters as Marshall is.

West Virginia (10-8-2) – The Mountaineers won the MAC tournament and put together their most complete game of the year when they rolled past a good Butler team 4-1 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.  West Virginia could make a sustained run if they can continue to play at that level.

Boston College (9-5-3) – This is a young but talented Boston College team. They have been inconsistent as is often the case when younger players are in key roles. Lineup changes due to injuries have also impacted the Eagles during the year but they have now stabilized.  Boston College has a tough second round matchup on the road with Washington. The Eagles will have to play their very best soccer of the year to win that one but don't count them out.

Washington (15-3-0) – Washington has exceeded expectations this year with their best record since the 2013 season.  The Huskies have outscored opponents twenty-two to four when playing at home this year but the fact that they were defeated by California 3-2 and Stanford 1-0 in their last two home games raised questions about the current level and intensity of their play.  If they play to their potential Washington should top Boston College in the second round but they are vulnerable as the tournament progresses if they don't bring their A game.

Stanford (13-2-3) – It goes without saying that Stanford has the potential to make a run to the College Cup.  They are as good as anyone in the country at finding and exploiting weaknesses in their opponents and are very good at finding a way to win the close contests. Ousseni Bouda (5g, 5a), Zach Ryan (6g, 1a) and Gabe Segal (6g, 0a) provide offensive firepower and goalkeeper Andrew Thomas anchors a Stanford defense that has allowed a total of only eleven goals.  Stanford has had a number of one goal contests this year so their margin for error is small.

Seattle (15-3-4) – The Redhawks had an impressive 3-1 first round win on the road over LMU. They did an excellent job of maintaining their composure when it looked like the momentum of the game might be shifting to LMU. It will take a disciplined approach and a full ninety minutes of play for Seattle to advance past Stanford in the second round of the tournament. You can bet the farm that Pete Fewing will have his team prepared to play.

New Hampshire (15-1-3) – Defense is a key ingredient in New Hampshire's success to date but in order to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament they will also have to do a good job creating and finishing scoring opportunities.  Antonio Colacci (7g, 9a) is the key on the offensive side of the ball while Josh Bauer (4g, 5a) and goalkeeper Alejandro Robles anchor the defense.  It  will require a total team effort on both sides of the ball for New Hampshire to get by Virginia Tech in the second round.

Virginia Tech (9-5-3) – The Hokies have played one of the most difficult schedules in the country which should prepare them for the rigors of NCAA Tournament play.  They have signature wins over Notre Dame and Louisville and ties with Clemson and Wake Forest.  Forward Kristo Strickler (9g, 3a) is the main man in Virginia Tech's attack.  The Hokies will be in trouble if they have to play catch up in their second round match with New Hampshire.   

Penn State (12-3-3) – Penn State under the guidance of second year head coach Jeff Cook has had a stellar season. They are returning to the NCAA Tournament field for the first time in five years.  Their eight game winning streak was halted when they were topped by Michigan 1-0 in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals. Midfielder Aaron Molloy (8g, 6a) and freshman forward Liam Butts (9g, 1a) lead a balanced Nittany Lion attack.  This team has grit as they showed when they came from two goals down to top Maryland 3-2 in regular season play.  The ability of Penn State's midfielders to maintain  possession and win the battle of the middle third will play a key role in the level of success that Penn State achieves in the NCAA Tournament. 

Providence (15-6-0) – Craig Stewart's Providence team flew under the radar for most of the season but they have emerged as the season has progressed and look to be a team with the ability to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Midfielder Tiago Mendonca is the guy who sets the pace in the center of the park along with midfielder Paulo Lima (8g, 1a) while back Joao Serrano (4g, 9a) adds additional punch to the attack out of the back. Senior goalkeeper Austin Aviza who transferred in from UConn anchors the defense. The Providence and Penn State contest looks to be one of the more intriguing second round matches.

Charlotte (12-3-4) – The Forty-Niners have only allowed a total of twelve goals all year against a very competitive slate of opponents. Charlotte's chances of a win in the second round against Clemson will hinge on whether or not goalkeeper Elliot Panicco and defenders  Patrick Hogan, Luke Johnson, Delasi Batse, Sean Suber and Noah Seach can contain a very prolific Clemson attack.  Midfielder Teddy Chaouche (7g, 9a) is the catalyst on the offensive side of the ball for Charlotte.

Clemson (16-2-1) – What a difference a year can make.  Clemson rebounded from not being in the NCAA Tournament field last year to earning the number two seed this year.  Last year Clemson scored a total of twenty-three goals while allowing twenty-five. This year they have scored sixty-five times and only allowed eighteen.  Robbie Robinson (15g, 9a), Kimani Smith (13g, 5a) and Grayson Barber (9g, 8a) provide big play ability while goalkeeper George Marks anchors the defense. Senior midfielder Tanner Dieterich (3g, 10), freshman midfielder Philip Mayaka (2g, 8a) and senior back Malick Mbaye (3g, 1a) have been difference makers.


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