Number two seeded Clemson out of the Atlantic Coast Conference and number four seeded Akron out of the Mid-American Conference advanced to the College Cup along with six seeded Syracuse out of the Atlantic Coast Conference and eight seeded Stanford out of the Pac-12 Conference. Stanford will face Akron and Clemson will face Syracuse at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas on Friday, December 11 in the national semifinals with the winners meeting on Sunday, December 13 at 2 p.m. All three matches will be televised live on ESPNU.
Stanford 2 – Wake Forest 1 (ot) – This one was played before an electric packed crowd of 4,906 partisan fans at Spry Stadium in Winston-Salem.
Visiting Standford jumped out to a 1-0 advantage in the eighteenth minute of the contest when sophomore midfielder Corey Baird sent a ball down the left side of the pitch to senior defender Brandon Vincent who sent a cross into junior forward Jordan Morris who drove a header into the back of the goal. The goal was Morris' eleventh of the season.
The teams went into intermission with Standford up 1-0.
During the seventieth minute of play Wake Forest's junior midfielder Hayden Partain was fouled in the box and junior midfielder Ian Harkes ignited the crowd and gave the Demon Deacons new life when he converted the penalty kick to knot the score at 1-1.
The contest went back and forth with the momentum changing several times but neither team was able to find the back of the net during the remainder of regulation.
Stanford netted the game winning goal in the first overtime period out of a free kick from thirty-five yards out. Baird put the ball in play with a ball which forward Foster Lansdorf headed into the back of the net from the middle of the penalty area. The assist was Baird's eleventh of the season and the goal was Lansdorf's seventh and fourth game-winner of the season.
Wake Forest had a 14-12 advantage in shots while Stanford has an 8 to 6 advantage in corner kicks for the evening. Andrew Epstein had four saves in goal for Stanford. Redshirt junior Alec Ferrell had six saves in goal for a Wake Forest team that finished the season with a 0.58 goals against average.
The Cardinal under the direction of head coach Jeremy Gunn improves to 17-2-2 and punch their ticket to the Final Four for the first time since the 2002 season. Gunn stated, "But yet again our team showed its amazing mentality and incredible courage. We kept pressing and were rewarded with another great opportunity."
Wake Forest under the direction of first year head coach Bobby Muuss concludes a banner season with a 17-3-2 overall record. The Deacons' roster included only two seniors so the future looks very bright for the program.
Stanford advances to face Akron on Friday, December 11 in the national semifinals.
Akron 3 – Creighton 2 (ot) – This Elite Eight contest which took place before a supportive and partisan Akron crowd of 3,043 at FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field featured plenty of action and was a nail-bitter.
Neither team was able to score during the first half of play but things heated up during the second stanza as might be expected when two teams with such high powered attacks tangle with each other.
Akron opened the scoring in the 60th minute of the contest when junior midfielder Victor Souto converted a penalty kick that resulted when playmaking midfielder Richie Laryea was fouled in the box.
Creighton continued to press the attack and responded in the 64th minute when senior midfielder Fernando Castellanos drove a header into the back of the frame after receiving a pass from junior forward Fabian Herbers.
Sophomore forward Stuart Holthusen slotted a shot into the corner of the net in the 80th minute with an assist from Laryea to give Akron a 2-1 lead. The goal was Holthusen's eight of the season.
Junior midfielder Ricardo Perez drove a shot into the back of the frame in the 85th minute for Creighton to knot it up at 2-2 after a little give and go action from midfielder Timo Pitter and Herbers. The goal was Perez's sixth of the 2015 campaign and the assist was Herber's 17th. That concluded the scoring in regulation and the teams entered overtime with both teams operating under the pressure of knowing that a berth to the Final Four was on the line.
Neither team found the back of the net during the first overtime period and it felt like this one might ultimately be decided by a penalty kick shootout but that was not to be the case as junior midfielder Adam Najem netted the game-winner for Akron out of a picture perfect free kick from the top of the box to send the Zips to the College Cup for the first time since the 2010 season and the first time under the direction of head coach Jared Embick who is in his third year at the helm of the program. The goal was Najem's tenth of the season and his fourth game-winner.
Senior Jake Fenlason had a solid ten save evening in goal for Akron. Senior Connor Sparrow who has been rock solid all season had five saves between the pipes for Creighton. The Bluejays had a 26-19 advantage in shots for the evening and a 12-8 advantage of shots of goal.
It was a disappointing loss for Creighton but nonetheless that should not dimenish the fact that they had another highly successful season with an impressive 19-4-0 overall record. Bluejay head coach Elmanr Bolowich stated, "Obviously, we are extremely disappointed not to be advancing. But on that note, we knew going in that only one team would move on from this. Congratualtions to Akron. They played a fantastic game."
Number four seeded Akron, which has five players who have found the back of the net eight times or more this year, improves to 18-3-2.
The Zips advance to a date with number eight seeded Stanford out of the Pac-12 at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas on Friday, December 11 at 8:30 p.m. in the national semifinals.
Syracuse 1 – Boston College 0 – This one between two ACC teams that had faced each other during the regular season was one of the more difficult contests in which to predict a winner. Boston College had come out on top 2-1 when the two squads tangled on October 30 in Chestnut Hill but the Orange got the win Saturday evening in the one that counted the most.
The contest took place at the SU Soccer Stadium in Syracuse, New York before a crowd of 1923 fans.
Defense ruled the day until the 79th minute when junior forward Ben Polk who has been a big play in the clutch performer all year for Syracuse sent a header into the back of the net out of a corner kick served in by teammate redshirt junior midfielder Liam Callahan. The goal was Polk's twelth of the year and his fifth game-winner. The assist was Callahan's ninth so far this year.
Senior goalkeeper Alex Kapp had a busy evening between the pipes for Boston College with nine saves. Freshman Hilpert Hendrik had two saves in goal for Syracuse. Credit the Syracuse backling of Louis Cross, Miles Robinson, and Kamal Miller and netminder Hendrik with another solid performance on the defensive side of the ball.
Syracuse had a sixteen to six shot advantage and a ten to two advantage in shots on goal. The Orange had a fourteen to six advantage in corner kicks.
The Orange under the direction of Ian McIntyre improve to 16-5-3 and advance to the national semifinals where they will face fellow ACC member Clemson for the third time this year on Friday, December 11. Clemson prevailed 1-0 when the two teams played at SU Soccer Stadium back on October 17 in a regular season match but Syracuse prevailed 2-0 when they squared off on November 11 at Clemson in the ACC Tourney.
McIntyre stated, "We're delighted to be able to play a lttle bit more soccer." He added, "There's only one more week left in the season and to still be playing is something special."
Boston College which under the direction of Ed Kelly topped Vermont, South Florida and Georgetown to advance to the Elite Eight concludes an excellent run in the NCAA Tourney with an 11-8-2 overall record.
Clemson 1 – Maryland 1 – Number two seeded Clemson advances 3 to 1 in a penalty kick shoothout.
Number ten seeded Maryland got the best of the run of play in the first half with an 8 to 1 advantage in shots and a 5-0 edge in corner kicks but Clemson came out with renewed drive in the second stanza and gained the momentum when junior midfielder Thales Moreno scored from within the box after Clemson put together a nice combination of passes with Oliver Shannon and Diego Campos credited with a double assist on the goal.
Maryland, playing without the services of junior center back Ivan Magalhaes who was ineligible due to the receipt of two yellow cards in the Terp's Sweet Sixteen win over Notre Dame, responded to knot the score at 1-1 when junior defender Alex Crognale converted a header out of a corner kick served in by freshman Jorge Calix in the seventy-third minute of the contest. The goal was Crognale's fourth of the season and Calix's fourth helper.
Both teams continued to attack but they remained tied at the end of regulation and two overtime periods despite the fact that Maryland had to play with ten for the last nine minutes of the second overtime period. Andrew Tarbell had three saves in goal for Clemson and Cody Niedermeier had five saves in goal for Maryland.
The contest went to a penalty kick shootout reinforcing the reason why teams devote practive time to penalty kicks and coaches emphasize the importance of them. Senior Mael Corboz was the lone Maryland player to find the back of the net in the shootout and Terp goalkeeper Niedermeier made two saves in goal during the shootout.
Junior defender Inman Mafi, senior TJ Casner and Moreno converted their penalty kicks for Clemson and Tarbell made two stops in goal during the shootout to enable the Tigers to survive and advance to the College Cup under the direction of Mike Noonan who is in his sixth season at the helm of the program for the first time in ten seasons.
Clemson is 17-2-3 while Maryland under the direction of Sasho Cirovski completes another successful season with a 12-5-6 record having advanced to the Elite Eight for the third time in the past four years. Cirvovski stated, "It's a cruel way to not advance but I couldn't be more proud of the incredible effort our players put forth. We battled all the way through the final whistle."
Clemson head coach Mike Noonan stated, "First of all, give credit to Maryland, they played exceptionally well, but so did we. We came out with a renewed sense of purpose in the second half. We stepped up the defense and that created the offense. Noonan added, "The crowd was amazing and kept us in it, and down the stretch we got even stronger."
Clemson will face ACC foe Syracuse on Friday, December 11 in the semi-finals of the College Cup. The two teams split with Clemson winning one and Syracuse the other when they faced each other previously this year.