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Conference Tournament Championships Will Be Determined This Weekend – Upsets Occurring Coast To Coast

Atlantic Coast Conference – The potential existed for a marquee final between Clemson and Wake Forest who tied during regular season play but Syracuse (12-5-3) and Notre Dame (11-3-5) decided differently. The Orange entered the season with a lot of gaps to plug but they have steadily improved as the season has progressed. They advanced past North Carolina in penalty kicks and then upset Clemson 2-0 to earn a spot in the championship contest. After losing to Wake Forest during regular season play the Irish upset the Demon Deacons 1-0 to advance to the tournament title.  Syracuse and Notre Dame did not meet during regular season play. Notre Dame will host the championship contest on Sunday at 1 p.m.  Both teams are a lock for an NCAA Tournament berth so this one is about winning the conference tournament championship and seeding in the NCAA Tourney.

American Athletic Conference – The top two seeds failed to advance to the championship match as number four seed Tulsa (7-6-5) advanced past number one seed SMU in a game that had to be decided by penalty kicks when the teams were tied 2-2 at the end of regulation and extra time.  Number three UConn (9-5-5) defeated number two seed and host South Florida 2-1 behind goals from midfielder Sebastian Breams and forward Abodu Thiam. UConn and Tulsa will play the championship game in Tampa at Corbett Stadium at 2 p.m. on Sunday. They tied 1-1 when the two teams faced each other on October 29.  

America East – Vermont (9-6-3) topped perennial power UMBC 2-1 in overtime to play their way into the championship match for the first time since the 2007 campaign. The loss was UMBC's first in America East Conference Tournament play in seven matches dating back to the 2011 campaign. Upstart Binghamton (10-7-2) upset regular season winner Albany 1-0 behind an impressive eight save effort in goal by junior Robert Moewes to return to the championship contest for the first time since 2008. Binghamton did what you need to do to advance this time of the year which is to take advantage of the scoring opportunities that came their way while playing solid team defense. Albany had a twelve to one advantage in corner kicks but could not convert. Binghamton prevailed 2-1 over Vermont when the two sides met during regular season play in early October.  Vermont will host the championship contest which will get underway Sunday at high noon.

Atlantic Sun – Number four seed USC Upstate (7-6-1) upset number one seed FGCU 4-3 in a wild back and forth contest to advance to the championship match.  The game was decided by Michelango Dovido's goal in overtime. USC Upstate is lead by freshman Gordan Wild who has scored a total of no less than sixteen goals to date. North Florida (9-6-1) advanced to the championship contest for the third consecutive season with a 2-1 win over Lipscomb. Helge Pietschmann's header in overtime gave Derek Marinatos's team the edge they needed to secure the win. This was a rough and tumble affair that featured a total of thirty-eight fouls including one red card for each side. The Ospreys will host the contest in Jacksonville on Saturday at 7 p.m. USC Upstate will be returning to the scene of the crime so to speak seeking a different outcome this time as they were topped 2-0 by North Florida in Jacksonville when the two teams squared off on October 31 in regular season play. Both teams are playing for the right to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time as a Division I participant. 

Atlantic Ten – Number two seed Dayton (12-5-3) defeated number six seed Rhode Island 2-1 to punch their ticket to the championship contest. Number eight seed and upstart VCU (7-9-4) who has played one of the most if not the most difficult schedules in the country played their way into the title match with a 1-0 win over Fordham with Rafael Andrade Santos providing the game-winner. VCU topped Dayton 3-2 when the two teams played on November 7 in Dayton. The championship contest will be played on Sunday at noon at the George Mason Stadium in Fairfax, Virginia.

Big East – This conference tournament has gone according to script with number one seed Georgetown (14-2-2) advancing to the final by topping Xavier 1-0 behind Brandon Allen's team leading tenth goal of the season to date and number two seed Creighton (17-2-0) doing the same by defeating Providence 2-1 with Joel Rydstrand and forward Fabian Herbers contributing the goals for the Bluejays.  The goal was Herbers' team leading fifteenth of the season to date. These two college soccer giants squared off on November 5 in Washington with Georgetown securing a 2-1 win.  The Hoyas will host the conference championship on Sunday at noon in the marquee match of the day. 

Big West – George Kuntz's Cal State Fullerton team (12-7-1), the number one seed in the South Division, punched their ticket to the championship game by defeating Cal Poly 3-1.  Tim Vom Steeg's UC Santa Barbara (13-5-2) squad, the top seed in the North Division,  defeated UC Davis 1-0 to secure a spot in the championship match. Junior forward Nick DuPey has fifteen goals to lead what can be a very potent UCSB attack. Junior David Rodriguez has eleven clean sheets in goal to lead what can be a very stout Cal State Fullerton defense as reflected in their eleven shutouts to date. UCSB prevailed 2-1 in double overtime at Harder Stadium when the two squads played earlier this season on October 10 in regular season action. The championship contest will take place on Saturday at 7 p.m. before what should be another banner and enthusiastic crowd at Harder Stadium in Santa Barbara.  The last time Cal State Fullerton topped UCSB at Harder Stadium was back in 2000.  The Gauchos have advanced to the Big West Conference tournament championship four times since it was instituted in 2008 but have not fared well in it.  The 2010 season was the only one in which they came away from the contest with a win. 

Big Ten – Ohio State (13-5-2) got past Penn State 1-0 in overtime then cruised past Rutgers 4-0 with four different players scoring a goal to advance to the championship contest. The Buckeyes found the back of the net within the first minute of the match against Rutgers and never took their foot off the gas.  It seems like every season there are a couple of teams that start slow and then turn things around. The Buckeyes fall into that category this year after beginning with a 1-4-0 start that included losses to Binghamton, UMBC, Navy and Northwestern they have rebounded and have won twelve out of their last thirteen contests with their lone loss a 1-0 setback to Rutgers. Maryland (9-5-5) has lacked the offensive firepower this year that they have displayed in years past but not in their Big Ten Tournament opening game in which they thumped Michigan 5-2. The Terps then advanced past Indiana in penalty kicks after the contest was tied 1-1 at the end of regulation and extra time. Maryland appears to be gaining momentum and when things are clicking they are capable of beating anyone in the country. Ohio State defeated Maryland 1-0 when the two teams meet in Columbus in a regular season game. The two will square off again on Sunday at 1 p.m. Columbus with the Big Ten Tournament title on the line. This one is up for grabs.

Colonial Athletic Association – Number three seed Delaware (10-6-4) advanced to the championship match by getting past number two seed Elon in penalty kicks after the games was tied 2-2 at the end of regulation and overtime. Delaware jumped out to a 2-0 advantage in that one but Elon responded with two goals of their own to knot the score. Delaware struggled earlier in the year and were 3-5-1 at one time but they have gotten back on track and are undefeated in their past eight contests. Number one seed Hofstra (12-7-0) defeated number five seed James Madison 2-0 to advance to the championship game.  The Pride avenged a 2-0 loss to James Madison in the final contest of regular season play which  is a good sign as this is a team that clearly struggled down the home stretch of regular season play losing four out of their last five games. Hofstra topped Delaware 1-0 when the two teams played in the regular season on October 10 but this is the one that really counts. Hofstra will host the championship contest which takes place in Hempstead, New York on Sunday at 2:30.

Conference USA – FIU (11-6-1) which has a high powered attack that has produced a total of thirty-eight goals so far this year will face Marshall (8-8-1) which is unbeaten in its last six matches at 2 p.m. on Sunday at Transamerica Field in Charlotte in the championship contest. These are not the two teams that one would have expected to appear in the final. Number five seed FIU under the direction of head coach Scott Calabrese defeated number four seed ODU 4-2 and upset number one seed Kentucky 1-0 to advance to the championship game. The loss was Kentucky's first against a CUSA team all year. Number seven seed Marshall advanced past number two seed Charlotte in penalty kicks and topped number three seed South Carolina 1-0 who had earlier eliminated New Mexico to advance to the championship contest. FIU thumped Marshall 5-1 when the two teams met back on September 26 in regular season play. The question in this one is whether or not Marshall can contain FIU's attack this time around.

Horizon League – Number two seed Oakland (9-8-1) and number six seed Wright State (12-7-1) once again will face each other in the championship game of the Horizon League Tournament which will take place Saturday at 7 p.m. at Flames Field in Chicago.  Oakland advanced to the contest with a 1-0 win over Cleveland State in overtime with redshirt senior forward Matt Rickard netting the lone goal of the evening out of a corner kick. Wright State upset number one seed and host UIC 2-1 to advance with Peguy Ngatcha providing the game-winner via a penalty kick.  Oakland defeated Wright State 2-0 when the two teams squared off on November 6 in regular season play. This one could come down to which  goalkeeper has the best game.

MAAC – Number two seed Rider (14-5-1) upset number one seed Monmouth (13-4-4) 3-2 on Monday to with the MAAC Tourney for the first time since 1998.

NEC – The top seeds have prevailed in this one but just barely. Number two seed Saint Francis (11-5-3) advanced to the championship for the second consecutive season by defeating number three seed Robert Morris 2-1 behind goals from Francis de Vries and Connor Rezende. Number one seed LIU Brooklyn advanced past number four seed St. Francis Brooklyn in penalty kicks after the contest was tied 1-1 at the end of regulation and overtime. LIU Brooklyn (11-5-3) prevailed 1-0 over Saint Francis when the two teams met during regular season play. The margin for error for both teams is slight in this one.  Effectiveness out of set pieces is could prove to be the difference maker in this one. The championship contest will be played on Sunday at noon hosted by LIU Brooklyn.

Patriot League – Top seeds beware in Patriot League Tournament play. This year once again the top seeds fell with number four seed Lehigh (12-5-3) shutting out number one seed Colgate 2-0 and number three seed American University (14-4-3) shutting out number two seed Boston University 2-0 to advance to the championship match which will take place Sunday at 1 p.m. in Hamilton, New York. This one could go either way as the two contestants tied 2-2 when they met in a game hosted by American on November 7. 

Southern Conference – Pre-season favorite Furman (7-5-5) which has not had the type of season many initially thought they would at least to this point advanced to the championship match by getting the best of number three seed Mercer in penalty kicks after the teams played to a scoreless tie.  Number four seed and tournament host ETCU (9-6-3) thumped Wofford 5-0 and then upset number one seed UNCG in penalty kicks after the two were tied at 1-1 at the end of regulation and overtime to advance to the championship match.  Furman prevailed 2-0 over ETSU when the two teams played each other back on October 15.

Summit League – Number one seed Denver (14-0-3) rolled past Western Illinois 4-0 to advance to the championship contest. Number three seed Oral Roberts upset number two seed Omaha 2-1 in overtime to advance to face the Denver Pioneers on Saturday at 3 p.m. at CIBER Field in Denver. The undefeated Pioneers who have played in the championship match for the past three seasons should prevail but strange things sometime happen in tournament play.


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