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NCAA Tournament First Round Play - Sixteen Teams Survive And Advance

The thril of victory and the agony of defeat.  The first round of play had it all.  Close contests, penalty kick shootouts, inclement weather, and as always a few surprises.  Sixteen teams survived and advanced and now travel to take on the top sixteen seeds on Sunday in the second round of play.



Colgate 1 - New Hampshire 0 - Colgate became the first team this year to beat New Hampshire at Wildcat Stadium.  Senior forward Steven Deleo scored the lone goal of the contest in the sixty-second minute of play.  Oliver Harris started the sequence when he sent a long pass to Kentaro Morrison who then crossed it into the box to Chris Depeto.  Depeto then redirected the cross to DeLeo who scored at close range.

Jacob Harris recorded five saves in goal including a crucial likely game-winning stop of a penalty kick with ten minutes remaining in regulation.  New Hampshire placed the Colgate defense under pressure as reflected in a thirteen to five New Hampshire advantage in shots and a seven to two advantage in corners but the Raider defense proved to be up to the challenge. 

Colgate improves to 13-4-5 and advances to the second round of the NCAA Tourney where they will face number one seed Wake Forest in Winston-Salem on Sunday.  New Hampshire out of the America East Conference completes  a very successful season with a 12-4-2 overall record. 


Akron 3 - Rider 1 - Akron is playing their best soccer of the year.  The contest was tied at intermission but Akron picked up the pace and took control in the second stanza with a three goal effort that gave them the win over a very determined Rider team that had not allowed a goal in their last five contests.   

Sophomore forward David Egbo again proved to be a difference maker for the Zips.  Egbo jump started the Zip attack when he intercepted a pass and sent a shot into the back of the frame from the top of the box to give Akron a 1-0 advantage in the fifty-first minute of the match. 

Rider responded in the seventy-eighth minute of play when Pablo DeCastro drove a header into the goal after receiving a cross from Emmanuel Kouma to knot the score at 1-1.  The goal was DeCastro's ninth of the season.

Egbo then gave Akron a 2-1 lead when he converted a header out of a corner kick served in by Morgan Hackworth. Marcel Zajac added the insurance goal when he converted a penalty kick in the eight-eighth minute of play. 

Akron wins their fourth straight contest to improve to 11-6-2.  The Zips travel to face number sixteen seed Syracuse on Sunday.  Rider out of the MAAC finishes a very productive season with a 10-10-1 overall record.   Rider head coach Charlie Inverso stated, "While we are disappointed, I think we can walk out of here with our heads held high."


UC Irvine 1 - Grand Canyon 1 - UC Irvine advances six to five in a penalty kick shootout.  Senior midfielder Jellah Jackson blasted a shot into the net from the top of the box in the forty-eighth minute of play with a double assist from forward Bert Wilton and midfielder Marios Andreou to give Grand Canyon a 1-0 lead. 

UC Irvine tied it at 1-1 and got new life in the seventieth minute of the contest when an attempted Grand Canyon clear out of a corner kick deflected off a Grand Canyon defender into the net.   The contest remained tied at the end of regulation and extra time. 

UC Irvine fifth-year senior goalkeeper Greg Patenaude made two stops in the penalty kick shootout to give the Anteaters the edge they needed to survive and advance to the second round.  UC Irvine advances to face number nine seed Stanford. 

Grand Canyon concludes a truly banner season with a 12-8-1 overall record.  Grand Canyon head coach Schellas Hyndman stated, "Today was a day where, as a coach and anybody who saw the GCU team play, you got to be proud of our boys because they gave everything they possibly could." 


Oregon State 2 - SMU 1 - The temperature was cold but Oregon State was hot.  The Beavers continue to roll as they advance to the second round of the NCAA Tourney for just the second time in the history of the program.  A multi-dimensional Beaver attack led by senior forward Don Tchilao (7g, 9a), freshman forward Gloire Amanda (8g, 2a),  midfielder Sofiane Djeffal  (5g, 7a), the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year,  and junior defender Eric Diaz (3g, 3a) continues to create problems for opposing defenses. 

Djeffal gave Oregon State the early lead when he sent a header into the back of the frame with a double assist from Tchilao and Amanda in the twenty-eighth minute of the match. 

SMU evened the contest at 1-1 when sophomore Nicky Hernandez scored in the sixty-eighth minute with Eddie Munjoma adding the helper.  Diaz then added what proved to be the game-winning goal for Oregon State when he scored less than a minute later with Tchilao contributing his second assist of the day.    

Freshman Adrian Fernandez had three saves in goal for the Beavers.  Junior Grant Makela had two saves in goal for SMU.

SMU out of the American Athletic Conference concluded the season with a 10-5-3 overall record.  Oregon State improves to 11-5-3 and advances to face number eight seed St. Mary's on Sunday.


James Madison 3 - High Point 0 - This one was pretty much all JMU from the get-go. 

Senior forward Aaron Ward-Baptiste (6g, 5a) scored what proved to be the game-winning goal for the Dukes from six yards out after receiving a cross from midfielder Yannick Franz in the nineteenth minute of play.  Junior midfielder Manuel Ferriol (8g, 5a) continues to be a force on the offensive side of the ball for the Dukes scoring out of a free kick put in play by Ward-Baptiste in the thirty-first minute and again in the seventieth minute with an assist from Niclas Mohr. 

James Madison improves to 13-4-3 and advances to the second round for the first time since 2011.  The Dukes travel  to Chapel Hill to tangle with number  five seed North Carolina on Sunday. 

High Point concludes a history making season with a 13-3-2 overall record during which they secured the program's  first ever berth in the NCAA Tournament. Panther head coach EJ O'Keeffe stated, "They've (the seniors) have taken this program from a good program to a nationally relevant program that deserved to be in this game, we just didn't come out on the right side of it tonight."


Charlotte 2 - Georgia State 2 - Charlotte advances 3-0 in a penalty kick shootout.  This one which was played in Charlotte was much closer than many thought it would be and could have gone either way. Credit Georgia State with a gritty on the road performance. 

Charlotte jumped out to an early lead when midfielder Dean Rutherford placed a header into the back of the net in the eighth minute after receiving a cross from teammate forward Daniel Bruce.  Georgia State continued to work and tied it at 1-1 with an Aris Briggs goal from inside the box that was served in by  Hannes Burmeister.  The teams went into the halftime break tied at 1-1. 

Bruce made a nice move to create the space and angle he needed and utilized his left foot to make it 2-1 Charlotte in the seventy-first minute of play after receiving a lofted pass from back Delasi Batse. 

Bruce was awarded his second yellow card in the seventy-second minute of the match and played a man down from that point forward.  Georgia State pressed the attack and were rewarded with an Alex Summerfield goal in the eight-sixth minute which knotted the contest at 2-2.  Max Hemmings contributed the helper on Summerfield's goal. 

Callum Montgomery, Maclean Holbrook and Tommy Madden converted their penalty kicks in the shootout to send the 49ers to the second round of play where they will square off with number twelve seed Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. 

Georgia State out of the Sun Belt Conference closes out the 2018 season with a 11-6-3 overall record.  Panther head coach Brett Surrency accurately summed things up when he stated, "We expected a full battle from Charlotte and we got that, but I feel like we gave that as well.  I'm disappointed to not advance, but in the same breath I'm incredibly proud of our boys."


West Virginia 4 - LIU Brooklyn 2 - This one took place under chilly conditions with a mixture of sleet and snow which created a slippery field.  

LIU Brooklyn started out on fire with Rasmus Hansen scoring in the fourth and ninth minutes of play out of counter attacks to jump out to a 2-0 advantage.  However West Virginia responded with a Logan Lucas header out of a corner served in by junior defender Albert Andres-Liop in the fifteen minute and a Takada Tsubasa header off a deflection in the thirty-fifth minute to secure new life and head into intermission with the score tied 2-2. 

Senior midfielder Jorge Quintanilla scored what proved to be the game-winning goal  for West Virginia in the seventy-second minute and senior midfielder  Joey Piatczyc put the game on ice when he scored out of a free kick from twenty-one yards out in the eighty-first minute of play.  

Steven Tekesky had a four save evening between the pipes for the Mountaineers as did Blackbird goalkeeper Sam Ilin.  

West Virginia improves to 14-6-0 and advances to the second round where they will square off with number thirteen seed Georgetown out of the Big East Conference on Sunday in the nation's capital. 

LIU Brooklyn out of the Northeast Conference ends the 2018 campaign with a 13-6-1 record.  Blackbird head coach TJ Kostecky stated, "It's been a remarkable season."  He added, "Often  times we talk about family, how teams are families.  Some are dysfunctional families, and some are healthy families; well this was the healthiest family I've ever coached in twenty years."


Michigan State 2 - UIC 0 - This contest was played in the snow which impacted the traction on the field.   

Senior forward Ryan Sierakowski  got the Spartan attack in gear in the sixth minute of the match when he sent a chip shot into the back of the frame that was set up by passes from DeJuan Jones and Hunter Barone.   Barone then extended the lead to two goals when he scored in the nineteenth minute with Jones making a nice move off the dribble before sending a pass to Barone.   

Both teams continued to press but that concluded the scoring for the evening.   Jimmy Hague had four saves in goal for Michigan State.  Sawyer Jackman had three saves between the pipes for UIC.   

Michigan State improves to 11-4-4 and advances to face number four seed Louisville on Sunday.  UIC out of the Horizon League closes out the season with a 12-6-2 record.  UIC head coach Sean Phillips stated, "This team, led by this group of seniors whose accomplishments speak for themselves, has been a joy to work with since the start of the season and even going back to January.  The staff is going to miss these seniors greatly."


Portland 1 - UCLA 0 - Junior forward Benji Michel was a difference maker for the Pilots once again.  His goal in the thirty-first minute of the match gave Portland the edge they needed to prevail.  Michel scored his eleventh goal of the season and seventh game-winner after receiving a through ball from teammate freshman Alejandro Pereira. 

Portland goalkeeper Kienan Weekes played a key role in the win with a solid six save evening.  UCLA had an eighteen shot evening while Portland had fifteen.  Both teams had opportunities to score that they were unable to finish.  

Portland improves to 12-3-3 and advances to face number three seed Kentucky on Sunday. 

UCLA ends their season with a 10-9-0 record.  Bruin head coach Jorge Salcedo stated, "Tonight was a tough way to end our season.  It was a snapshot of so many of our matches this year."  Salcedo added, "We have created so many chances that have not been converted into goals over and over this season. Once again we hit the woodwork and have several clear chances, but could not finish.  Credit Portland for scoring and bending but not breaking tonight." 


Lipscomb 0 - Washington 0 - Lipscomb advances 5-4 in a penalty kick shootout. - This was without a doubt the biggest surprise of the first round.  Credit Lipscomb with a gutsy performance on the road. Washington had a fourteen to five advantage in shots and a thirteen to four advantage in corner kicks but they were unable to finish.   

Goalkeeper Chris Zappia had a banner evening for Lipscomb making eight saves to repeatedly thwart the Washington attack.  Luke Wilson took over in goal during the shootout for Lipscomb making two stops to give the Bisons the edge they needed to prevail in the shootout and advance to the second round. 

Lipscomb improves  9-9-1 and travels to Orlando to face UCF on Sunday.  Washington ends their season with a 12-7-1 record.


North Carolina State 4 - Campbell 1 - Campbell kept it close until the later part of the second half when the Wolfpack took control. 

David Norris decisively sent a header into the net after receiving a cross from Ivy Brima to give NC State a 1-0 advantage with three minutes remaining in the first half.  Campbell tied it at 1-1 fifteen minutes into the second stanza with a nice chip shot into the back of the frame by sophomore Alemu Mercer-Miko  with a double assist from Matt Lock and JJ Donnelly. 

Sophomore midfielder Brad Sweeney converted a penalty kick for the Wolfpack in the sixty-ninth minute to break the deadlock.  Junior midfielder Gabriel Machado then contributed goals in the seventy-second and seventy-fourth minutes to seal the deal for N.C. State.

NC State secures a ten win season for the first time since 2012 and advances to face number eleven seed Maryland on Sunday in College Park.  Campbell out of the Big South Conference closes out the season with a 9-9-3 record.  Campbell head coach Dustin Fonder stated, "This group of seniors have done a great job of inheriting a program and making it better than how they found it."


Pacific 1 - UC Riverside 0 - Pacific was supposed to host the contest but the quality of the air in Stockton caused the game to be moved to Ramirez field on the campus of Fresno Pacific University. 

Forward Anthony Orendain scored the lone goal of the match for Pacific in the twenty-fourth minute with an assist from forward Alfredo Alcala.   UC Riverside pressed the attack but was unable to penetrate a tough Pacific defense. Ethan Bandre had four saves in goal for Pacific and Edwyn Gutierrez had four saves between the pipes for UC Riverside.

Pacific improves to 12-4-2 and advances to faces number six Duke in Durham, North Carolina.  UC  Riverside closes out the season with a 7-10-3 record.


Michigan 1 - Princeton 1 - Michigan advances eleven to ten in a penalty kick shootout.  Clearly this one which was played on a field blanketed in snow could have gone either way.  The contest featured a total of forty-six fouls and eight cards. 

Princeton drew first blood when senior Benjamin Martin scored out of a counter attack set up by passes from Moulay Hamza  Kanzi Belghiti and Jerry Colvin.  Michigan Senior Noah Kleedtke tied it at 1-1 when he scored in the seventy-fifth minute with Peter Brown and Umar Farouk Osman contributing the helpers. 

The contest remained 1-1 at the end of regulation and overtime.  Princeton junior goalkeeper Jacob Schachner made two stops during the penalty kick shootout.  Michigan goalkeeper Henry Mashburn made four saves in the penalty kick shootout that extended to fourteen rounds  to give Michigan the edge they needed to prevail. 

Michigan now travels to face number seven seed Notre Dame on Sunday.  The Irish topped Michigan 2-1 when the two teams meet in Ann Arbor back on October 16.  Princeton out of the Ivy League concludes a successful season with a 10-5-2 record.


Furman 0 - UNCW 0 - Furman advances five to three in a penalty kick shootout.  Defense ruled in this one.  Emery May, Josiah Baker, Ben Hale, Laurence Wyke and Cole McLagan converted their penalty kicks in the shootout for Furman.  Hale had a four save evening in goal for Furman and made one stop during the shootout.   

Furman advances to face Virginia in Charlottesville on Sunday in the second round.  UNCW out of the Colonial  Athletic Association closes out the year with a 13-6-2 record. 


Air Force 4 - Central Arkansas 0 - Neither team was able to fully get into their rhythm on the offensive side of the ball in the first stanza which was scoreless. 

Air Force opened the contest up in the second half with senior midfielder Danny Hall getting things started in the fifty-sixth minute when he sent a one-timer into the back of the net after receiving a pass from Austin Deving.  Senior defender Klint Parker,  senior midfielder Tucker Bone and senior defender James Sims added goals to give Air Force a decisive 4-0 win. 

Andrea Seazzu had three saves in goal for Air Force.  Marc Olsen had six saves in goal for Central Arkansas.

Air Force halts a two game losing streak to improve to 16-4-0 and moves forward to face Denver on the road in the second round.  Central Arkansas out of the Missouri Valley Conference closes out the 2018 campaign with an 8-6-4 record.


Connecticut 4 - Rhode Island 3 (OT) - Connecticut came from two goals down with fifteen minutes remaining in regulation to secure the win in overtime.   Senior forward Abdou Mbacke Thiam sent a header into the net out of a corner kick served in by Dayonn Harris in the thirty-fourth minute to give Connecticut the early lead.  Rhode Island responded in the thirty-seventh minute when defender Tyler Dickson sent a header into the net out of a corner kick that was put in play by Peder Kristiansen to knot the score at 1-1. Dickson scored again just two minutes later out of a corner kick served in by Dominik Richter to give Rhode Island a 2-1 advantage. 

The teams went into intermission with Rhode Island up by a goal.  Forward Chae Bergman gave the Rams a 3-1 lead in the fifty-third minute of play when he sent a one-timer into the back of the frame that was set up by a nice move and pass from midfielder Stavros Zarkostas.  It appeared at the time that Rhode Island was in control of the contest but that was not to be the case.  The old adage that a two goal lead is the most precarious lead in soccer proved to be true.

Connecticut forward Ibrahima Diop scored in the seventy-six minute after receiving a cross from Cole Venner to narrow the gap to 3-2.  Diop knotted the score at 3-3 four minutes later when he scored out of a breakaway with Felix Metzler proving the assist.  The contest went into overtime with Connecticut having the momentum and Rhode Island wondering how they let it slip away from them.  Diop then netted the game-winning goal for the Huskies in the ninety-ninth minute of play. 

Rhode Island concluded a successful season with a 15-5-0 overall record.  UConn improves to 12-5-2 and advances to the second round of play to face number two seed Indiana in Bloomington on Sunday.



The Road To Santa Barbara - A Look At The First Round Contests - The 2018 NCAA Tournament

Get ready.  The action, excitement and intensity of the NCAA Tournament is about to begin.  The first round of play gets underway on Thursday with a slate of sixteen outstanding college soccer contests on tap across the country. 



Colgate (12-4-5) at New Hampshire (12-3-2) -  Colgate won the Patriot League Tournament and New Hampshire the America East Tournament. 

A veteran and team oriented Colgate squad features a balanced attack led by senior midfielder Oliver Harris and a defense led by back Aram Ouligian and junior Christian Clarke.  Team chemistry is also a big plus for a New Hampshire team that features a defense led by graduate student goalkeeper Lars Huxsohl and sophomore back Josh Baue that has allowed a total of only nine goals and posted ten shutouts.  New Hampshire which is 10-0-0 at home this year hosts the contest. 

Prognosis - Give New Hampshire the edge due to playing at home but give Colgate the edge in the grit factor.  All things considered this one is too close to call.  



Rider (10-9-1) at Akron (10-6-2) - Rider won the MAAC Tournamet.  Akron won the MAC Tournament. 

Both of these teams struggled during the early part of the season before rebounding and gaining momentum.  Rider comes into the contest on a five game winning streak during which they have not allowed a goal.  Forwards Elliott Otmani  (7g, 10a) and Pablo DeCastro (8g, 1a) add punch to the Rider attack.  Sophomore goalkeeper Pablo Gatinois and redshirt junior backs Sylvain Coco and Arthur Herpreck anchor a Rider defense that will face a lot of pressure from Akron. 

Akron comes into the game off a four game winning streak.   David Egbo (10g, 3a), Diogo Pacheco (5g, 2a), and Marcel Zajac (5g, 7a) power an  Akron attack that has produced thirty-seven goals but that at times has lacked the explosiveness of vintage  Akron offenses.  Senior goalkeeper Ben Lundt. a three-year starter, is a big plus between the pipes for the Zips. 

Prognosis  - Akron's pressure will take a toll as the game progresses.   Look for the Zips to prevail. 



Grand Canyon (12-8-0) at UC Irvine (12-5-2) - Grand Canyon won the WAC Tournament.  UC Irvine was awarded an at-large berth. 

Grand Canyon comes into the contest off a six game winning streak during which time they have scored eight goals and allowed only one.  Credit veteran head coach Schellas Hyndman with an outstanding job of merging the talents of the Grand Canyon players into a unified team.  Sophomore forwards Josh Drack (3g, 2a), Afonso Marco (3g, 3a) and midfielders Jackson Jellah (3g, 1a) and Alex Radilla (2g, 3a) are among the key elements in a very balanced but not highly prolific Grand Canyon attack.  Senior back Sam Gardner and redshirt freshman goalkeeper George Tasouris are at the heart of a bend but don't break GCU defense that has allowed a total of only sixteen goals and has played well under pressure.  

UC Irvine under the guidance of second year head coach Yossi Raz won the Big West Conference regular season title.   Forward Ivan Canales (10g, 5a), the Big West Offensive Player of the Year, and midfielder Jose Ortiz (8g, 3a) provide firepower to an Anteater attack that has netted a total of thirty-four goals.  Junior midfielder  Danie Crisostomo (3g, 3a) adds another dimension to the offensive. 

Prognosis - The future looks bright for both teams and both have had seasons upon which they can build but the 2018 campaign has to come to an end for one of them.  Grand Canyon by a goal. 



SMU (10-4-3) at Oregon State (10-5-3) - The Mustangs won the American Conference Tournament.  Oregon State out of the Pac-12 was awarded an at-large berth.

SMU concluded the month of September with a loss to UCF and a disappointing 4-4-1 record.  They then gelled as a team and have not lost since then with six wins and two ties in their last eight contests. Senior midfielder Emil Cuello (5g, 5a) and forwards Akean Shackleford (6g, 0a) and Garrett McLaughlin (3g, 2a) are key elements in the attack.  Backs Talen Maples, Eddie Munjoma (2g, 5a),  Philip Ponder and Thomas Haney and goalkeeper Grant Makela anchor a Mustang defense that has played very well down the homestretch. 

Oregon State had a chance to share the Pac-12 title with Stanford but a season ending 2-0 loss to Washington derailed that.  Nonetheless the Beavers have way exceeded expectations this year behind first year head coach Terry Boss.  Senior forward  Don Tchilao (7g, 7a) and freshman forward Gloire Amanda (8g, 1a) are very dangerous finishers.  Freshman midfielder Sofiane Dieffal (4g, 7a) adds yet another playmaker to the Beaver attack.  Freshman Adrian Fernandez anchors the Oregon State defense in goal. 

Prognosis - This one is all about which team is able to settle in and play their game.  Traveling can be detrimental but SMU's experience should prove to  be a difference maker in this one.  If the Mustangs  avoid lapses in play, they should leave Corvallis with a win.



James Madison (12-4-3) at High Point (13-2-2) - James Madison won the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament.  High Point out of the Big South Conference received an at-large berth. 

James Madison won both the CAA regular season and tournament titles under first-year head coach Paul Zazenski.   JMU has scored a total of thirty-one goals while allowing only ten so far this year.  Redshirt sophomore forward Carson Jeffris (7g, 3a), senior forward Aaron Ward-Baptiste (5g, 4a) and junior midfielder Manuel Ferriol (6g, 5a) who was the MVP of the 2018 CAA Tourney,  are among those who add credibility to James Madison's offense.  Graduate Student midfielder  Yannick Franz (0g, 2a) is a solid two-way player and team catalyst who sets the pace for JMU.   Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper TJ Bush and senior back Thomas Shores are key ingredients in the Dukes defense. 

This has been a history making and high energy season for a High Point team under the leadership of head coach EJ O'Keeffe that is making its first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament.  Junior forwards  Ilias Kosmidis (10g, 3a) and Siggi Benonysson (5g, 7a) and freshman midfielder Tony Pineda (7g, 5a) are all dangerous playmakers.  Senior backs Johnny Fenwick and Rashid Tetteh and redshirt netminder Keegan Meyer anchor a Panther defense that has held opponents to only sixteen goals.

Prognosis - This is a credibility game for HPU.  If they remain focused on the task at hand and don't get caught up in the event then their history making 2018 season should include the program's first ever NCAA Tournament win.  



Georgia State (11-6-2) at Charlotte (14-4-1) - Georgia State won the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.  Charlotte out of CUSA was awarded an at-large berth.

A determined Georgia State team showed a lot of grit when they came from behind to top Georgia Southern 4-2 in the Sun Belt Championship contest.  Georgia State has a balanced attack that features senior midfielder Max Hemmings (4g, 4a), sophomore forward  Aris Briggs (5g, 1a),  junior forward Frank Rosenwald (4g, 2a) and senior midfielder Hannes Burmeister (3g, 1a) who contributed a hat trick in the tournament championship game.   Junior Kyle Clinton, the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year,  redshirt senior Liam Fitzsimmons and sophomore George Proctor anchor a very capable GSU defense along with junior goalkeeper Paul Tyson. 

Charlotte's eight game winning streak came to an end when they were topped 1-0 by Kentucky in the CUSA Conference Tournament final.  This is a very balanced Charlotte team that has scored a total of thirty-six goals while allowing only ten.  Senior back Callum Montgomery, the CUSA Defender of the Year,  and redshirt junior Elliot Panicco anchor a 49er defense that is among the best in the country.  Senior forward Daniel Bruce (5g, 4a), senior midfielder Tommy Madden (4g, 5a)  and junior midfielder Teddy Chaouche (1g, 10a) power the Charlotte offense. 

Prognosis - Georgia State will come to play but Charlotte's stout defense will provide the edge that they need to take control of the contest and secure the win.



LIU Brooklyn (12-5-1) at West Virginia (13-6-0) - LIU Brooklyn won the Northeast Conference Tournament.  West Virginia out of the MAC was awarded an at-large berth. 

Senior forward Rasmus Hansen (7g, 1a), sophomore midfielder Fredrik Mathisen (5g, 5a) and redshirt senior forward Romario Guscott (4g, 4a) are at the forefront of an LIU Brooklyn attack that has scored a total of thirty-two goals.  Sophomore Erik Johansson, the NEC Defensive Player of the Year, senior  Flilip Nordstrom, and junior Marius Koss are part of a very solid Blackbird backline along with freshman goalkeeper Sam llin.

West Virginia won the MAC regular season title but fell to Akron 3-1 in the semifinals of the conference tournament.  This is a good Mountaineer team but on occasion they have been porous on the defensive side of the ball.  Senior midfielder Joey Piatczyc  (7g, 9a), the MAC Player of the Year, junior midfielder   Andres Muriel Albino (6g, 1a) and junior defender Pascal Derwaritsch  (6g, 1a) have been the top goal scorers for the Mountaineers.  Sophomore goalkeeper Steven Tekesky  and junior backs Albert Andres-Liop, Pascal Derwaritsch and Ryan Kellogg are among those who head coach Marlon LeBlanc will count on on the defensive side of the ball.     

Prognosis -  LIU Brooklyn will be very competitive but the loss to Akron should serve to keep West Virginia focused and hungry.  It may be close but when it is all said and done the Mountaineers should advance to the second round of play.



UIC (12-5-2) at Michigan State (10-4-4) - UIC won the Horizon League Tournament.  Michigan State out of the Big Ten was awarded an at-large berth.

UIC has scored a total of thirty-eight goals with senior forwards Max Todd (12g, 2a) and  Markel Saddler (5g, 10a) and junior midfielders Oscar Gonzalez (5g, 9a) and  Jesus Perez (3g, 12a) all playing key roles.  Sophomore back Jacob Graiber and senior goalkeeper Sawyer Jackman are key ingredients on the defensive side of the ball for the Flames.

Michigan State will seek to get back into the win column after losing to Maryland 1-0 in overtime in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament.  The Spartans have played everyone close this year but their inability to come up with the big play needed to win the close contests has derailed them at times.  Junior Giuseppe Barone (3g, 9a), the Big Ten Midfielder of the Year,  and junior forwards Ryan Sierakowski (5g, 4a) and DeJuan Jones (5g, 3a) are the keys to the Spartan attack.   Sophomore back Patrick Nielsen and senior goalkeeper Jimmy Hague are among the standouts on the defensive side of the ball. 

Prognosis - UIC is a perfect 7-0-0 at home but 3-5-1 on the road.  Nonetheless, the  Flames will come to East Lansing believing they can win.  An upset is not out of the question particularly when you consider that Michigan State has managed to find the back of the net a total of one time in their last four contests.  Look for the Michigan State attack to get in gear in this one and secure the win. 



UCLA (10-8-0) at Portland (11-3-3) - Portland out of the WCC received at-large berth.  Ditto that for UCLA out of the Pac-12 Conference. 

The Bruins return to the NCAA Tournament field after a rare absence last year.  UCLA comes into the contest with four losses in their last five games including a regular season ending 1-0 loss at home to San Diego State.  Midfielder Matt Hundley (5g, 7a) and forward Mohammed Kamara  (5g, 1a) are among the twelve players who produced the twenty-five goals UCLA has scored.  Backs senior Erik Holt, sophomore Brandon Terwege, freshman AJ Vasquez, and redshirt junior Matthew Powell anchor the Bruin backline.  Freshman Justin Garces and senior Cole Martinez have shared time in goal. 

Portland comes into the match with three losses in its last four contests including a 1-0 loss at home to Saint Mary's in their final regular season game.  Junior Benji Michel (10g, 2a) has been the main man in a Portland attack that has produced a total of thirty-three goals.  Junior midfielders  Gio Magana-Rivera and  Rey Ortiz are key playmakers.  Senior center back Lionel Milles and junior Esteban Calvo Malcom will be counted upon to anchor the Pilot defense.

Prognosis - Both teams have struggled down the homestretch.  Give Portland the edge due to playing at home.



Lipscomb (9-9-0) at Washington (12-7-0) - Lipscomb won the ASUN Conference Tournamet.  Washington out of the Pac-12 was awarded an at-large berth.

Credit Lipscomb. They never gave up.  After a dismal start that would have sent many teams into a tailspin, the Bisons rebounded to win eight out of their last ten contests including a signature 3-2 win over Louisville and ASUN tournament wins over Jacksonville and Stetson.  Senior forward Logan Paynter (9g, 3a), the ASUN Player of the Year, has been the go-to guy in the Lipscomb attack since arriving on campus. Senior Ryan Birchfield is a box-to-box midfielder who contributes on both sides of the ball.  Goalkeeper Chris Zappia gives Lipscomb a talented and composed presence between the pipes. 

Washington has had a bit of a roller coaster season that included a four game losing streak in the middle of the season. They will come into the contest with Lipscomb on a four came winning streak.  Seniors Kyle Coffee (4g, 7a), Scott Menzies (9g, 0a) and Corban Anderson (3g, 4a), sophomore Blake Bodily (2g, 4a) and freshman Dylan Teves (5g, 2a) are among those who add firepower to Wasington's attack.  Seniors Quentin Pearson and Luke Hauswirth anchor the backline along with redshirt junior goalkeeper Saif Kerawala. 

Prognosis - Washington seems to have resolved whatever caused their midseason slump.  Lipscomb will make it close for a while but Washington should pull away as the game progresses.    



Campbell (9-8-3) at North Carolina State (9-6-3) -  Campbell won the Big South Tournament.  NC State out of the Atlantic Coast Conference received an at-large berth.

Senior co-captain JJ Donnelly (6g, 5a), sophomore Thibaut Jacquel (4g, 8a), senior midfielder Josh Signey,   (4g, 3a) and freshman midfielder Matt Lock (3g, 4a) are among Campbell's key goal scorers.  Junior Ian Rees is a solid two-way player who sets the pace in the middle of the park.  Junior Gideon Betz (3g, 1a), Michael Barrow, and Ben Morrison anchor the defense along with sophomore goalkeeper Samuel Lechuga.   

NC State is making its first back-to-back appearance in the NCAA Tournament since the 1991 and 1992 seasons.  The Wolfpack started the season strong and have signature wins over Akron, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina.  However, they come into the contest with Campbell having lost three out of their last five games.  The departure of sophomore midfielder Manny Perez (1g, 5a) to play with the U20 Men's National Team likely contributed to that.  Junior Gabriel Machado (4g, 3a), sophomore Brad Sweeney (4g, 2a) and sophomore David Loera (3g, 6a) are important elements in the Wolfpack offense.  Senior back Simon Blotko and sophomore goalkeeper Leon Krapf anchor a defense that has allowed a total of twenty-one goals. 

Prognosis - George Kiefer has the Pack back on track.  Look for North Carolina State to prevail and claim their first NCAA Tournament win since the 1994 season  and their first ten win season since 2012.



UC Riverside (7-9-3) at Pacific (11-4-2) - UC Riverside won the Big West Conference Tournament.  Pacific out of the West Coast Conference was awarded an at-large berth.    

UC Riverside is hands down the Cinderella team of the 2018 season.  The Highlanders rebounded after beginning the year with a 0-7-1 mark to secure the program's first ever Big West Conference Championship and berth in the NCAA Tournament.  Sophomore midfielder Daniel Aguirre (6g, 2a), redshirt senior midfielder Edward Benito (3g, 2a), freshman forward Daniel Castaneda (3g, 1a) and forward Roberto Garcia-Vargas (3g, 0a) are among the key contributors on the offensive side of the ball.  Senior back Dusan Keca (4g, 1a) has been an impact player on both sides of the ball.  

Pacific comes into the contest with wins in five of their last six games including regular season ending wins over Portland 3-2 and Gonzaga 1-0.  The Tigers have scored a total of twenty-nine goals while only allowing thirteen. Senior Camden Riley (9g, 5a) and junior Jonathan Jimenez (8g, 5a) power the Pacific attack.  Senior backs Wouter Verstraaten and Bob Groenendijk are a key factor in a very tenacious Tiger defense.

Prognosis -  A very experienced and talented Pacific team is making its third straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament.  If they play to their potential they will earn the right to advance to travel cross county face Duke in the second round.



Princeton (10-5-2) at Michigan (12-5-2) - Princeton won the Ivy League regular season title and the automatic berth that accompanies it.  Michigan out of the Big Ten was granted an at-large berth.

Sophomore midfielder Kevin O'Toole (4g, 3a)  the Ivy League  Player of the Year, senior forward  Sean McSherry (4g, 3a), and senior forward  Jeremy Colvin (5g, 0a) power a Princeton attack that netted a total of twenty one goals.  Backs Richard Wolf, Cole Morokhovich, Bobby Hickson, Benjamin Issroff and junior goalkeeper Jacob Schachner anchor a Princeton defense that only allowed a total of eleven goals.

Michigan comes into the contest with Princeton after defeating Penn State 3-1 and Wisconsin 1-0 to advance to the Big Ten Tournament title match where they were topped by Indiana 3-0.  Junior Jack Hallahan (8g, 8a), the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, and sophomore Farouk Osman (9g, 3a) provide firepower to the Michigan attack up-top.  Senior  midfielder Robbie Mertz (2g, 4a) sets the pace in the midfield.  

Senior back Marcello Borges and goalkeeper Henry Mashburn are key ingredients in a Wolverine defense that has allowed a total of seventeen goals.

Prognosis - This one is going to hinge on whether or not the Princeton defense can contain the Michigan attack.  Whoever scores first will have a big advantage.  Look for Hallahan or Osman to break through and secure a closely contested win for Michigan.  



Furman (13-6-1) at UNCW (12-5-2) - Furman won the Southern Conference Tournament.  UNCW out of the Colonial Athletic Association received an at-large berth. 

 After losing their final two regular season contests, Furman rebounded to top Belmont, ETSU, and UNCG to win the Southern Conference Tournament.  Junior midfielder Emery May (9g, 1a) and senior midfielder Laurence Wyke (7g, 1a) have been a key part of a Furman offense that has found the back of the net a total of thirty-seven times.  Ben Hale, the Southern Conference Goalkeeper of the Year, anchors a Paladin defense that has allowed a total of twenty goals. 

UNCW is making back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Tournament.  The Seahawks maintained a spot in the national rankings for most of the year but dropped out after losing three out of their last four matches including a 2-1 loss to Hofstra in the semifinals of the CAA Tournament.  A productive UNCW attack that is paced by junior forward Philip Goodrum (12g, 4a) and sophomore forward Emil Elveroth (11g, 5a) has produced a total of thirty-nine goals.  Senior midfielder Joel Bylander (0g,3a) is a four-year starter and team catalyst.  Junior defenders Mark Lindstrom and Wilhelm Nilsson and senior goalkeeper Ryan Cretens are key elements in a Seahawk defense that has held opponents to a total of fifteen goals.  

Prognosis - Both teams can score in multiples when their attack settles into a rhythm and they control the pace of the match.  Breakdowns on the defensive side will be costly.  Furman has momentum but UNCW looks to be the stronger side.  The Seahawks should survive and advance to the next round.



Central Arkansas (8-5-4) at Air Force (15-4-0) - Central Arkansas won the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.  Air Force out of the Western Athletic Conference was awarded an at-large berth.

Central Arkansas is powered on the offensive side of the ball by junior forward Niklas Brodacki (9g, 0a) who was named the MVC Player of the Year the past two seasons.  Sophomore forward Kasper Anderson (2g, 3a)  and senior midfielder Chris Holmes (1g, 2a) are among those who add balance to the offense. Senior Daltyn Knutson (3g, 3a)  is a box-to-box midfielder who sets the pace for the Bears.   Junior Marc Olsen anchors the defense in goal. 

Air Force comes into the match off back-to-back 1-0 loses to Grand Canyon.  Tucker Bone (12g, 6a) and Austin Dewing (11g, 4a) are key ingredients in a potent Air Force offense that has scored a total of forty-eight times.  Junior goalkeeper Andrea Seazzu, the WAC Defensive Player of the Year,  and senior back David Louthan anchor a defense that has allowed a total of fourteen goals.

Prognosis - Air Force may have trouble containing Brodacki.  Likewise Central Arkansas will have to contend with the dual threat of Bone and Dewing.  Give Air Force the edge and the win.



Rhode Island (15-4-0) at Connecticut (11-5-2) - Rhode Island won the Atlantic 10 Tournament.  Connecticut out of the American Athletic Conference was the recipient of an at-large berth.

Rhode Island won the Atlantic 10 Tournament with impressive wins over Fordham, VCU, and George Mason.  Senior Dominik Richter (9g, 5a), freshman Edvin Akselsen (7g, 6a) and junior Stavos Zarokostas (8g, 3a) are among the key goal scorers for a Rhode Island team that has found the back of the net thirty-nine times.  Graduate Student goalkeeper Tyler Dickson and junior back Peder Kristiansen anchor a Ram defense that has allowed a total of seventeen goals. 

Connecticut returns to the NCAA Tournament field after a two year absence. Forwards senior Abdou Mbacke Thiam  (13g, 6a) and redshirt junior Dayonn Harris (5g, 6a) are the top goal scorers in UConn's offense.   Senior center  back Jacob Hauser-Ramsey, the AAC Defensive Player of the Year, and freshman back Felix Metzler, the AAC Rookie of the Year, redshirt senior Dylan Greenberg  and sophomore Robin Lapert anchor a Connecticut backline that has allowed a total of twenty-three goals.

Prognosis - These two teams were supposed to meet during the regular season but the game was cancelled due to the weather.  Connecticut has lost three out of its last four contests although against very tough competition.  Rhode Island has been playing very well as a team but their defense may have problems containing Abdou Mbacke Thiam.  This one could go either way.



2018 NCAA Tournament Brackets - The Road To The College Cup (Final Four)

It is survive and advance time once again.  The Big Dance is about to get underway.  The 48-team field has been announced and it is now all about the journey along the road with the destination being the College Cup at Harder Stadium in Santa Barbara, Californina. 

Wake Forest, Indiana, Kentucky and Lousiville were awarded the coveted top four seeds which means they could play their way to Santa Barbara without ever leaving home.

All sixteen first-round contests will take place on Thursday, November 15.  All sixteen second round games are slated for Sunday, November 18.  The third round (Round of Sixteen) will take place on Saturday, November 24 or Sunday, November 25 and the quarterfinals (Elite Eight) will be played on Friday, November 30 or Saturday, December 1 at the site of the highest seed. 

The College Cup (Final Four) will take place on Friday, December 7 and Sunday, December 9 at Meridith Field at Harder Stadium in Santa Barbara, California.



#1 Wake Forest Bracket 

 

First Round:  Colgate (12-4-5) at New Hampshire (12-3-2)

Second Round:  Winner at #1 Wake Forest  (17-2-0)  


First Round:  Rider (10-9-1) at Akron (10-6-2)

Second Round:  Winner at #16 Syracuse (7-6-4)


First Round:  Grand Canyon (12-8-0) at UC Irvine (12-5-2)

Second Round:  Winner at #9 Stanford (11-3-4)


First Round:  SMU (10-4-3) at Oregon State (10-5-3)

Second Round:  Winner at #8 St. Mary's (17-0-1)



#4  Louisville Bracket 

 

First Round:  James Madison (12-4-3) at High Point (13-2-2)

Second Round:  Winner at #5 North Carolina (14-3-1)


First Round:  Georgia State (11-6-2) at Charlotte (14-4-1)

Second Round:  Winner at #12 Virginia Tech (10-6-3)


First Round:  LIU Brooklyn (12-5-1) at West Virginia (13-6-0) 

Second Round:  Winner at #13 Georgetown (12-4-3)


First Round:  UIC (12-5-2) at Michigan State (10-4-4) 

Second Round:  Winner at #4 Louisville (11-4-3)



#3 Kentucky Bracket 

 

First Round:  UCLA (10-8-0) at Portland (11-3-3) 

Second Round:  Winner at #3 Kentucky (17-1-1)


First Round:  Lipscomb (9-9-0) at Washington (12-7-0)

Second Round:  Winner at #14 UCF (13-2-3)


First Round:  Campbell (9-8-3) at North Carolina State (9-6-3)

Second Round:  Winer at #11 Maryland (8-6-4)


First Round:  UC Riverside (7-9-3) at Pacific (11-4-2)

Second Round:  Winner at #6 Duke (10-6-2)



#2 Indiana Bracket 

 

First Round:  Princeton (10-5-2) at Michigan (12-5-2) 

Second Round:  Winner at #7 Notre Dame (10-6-2)


First Round:  Furman (13-6-1) at UNCW (12-5-2)

Second Round:  Winner at #10 Virginia (9-3-3)


First Round: Central Arkansas (8-5-4) at Air Force (15-4-0)

Second Round:  Winner at #15 Denver (15-3-2)


First Round:  Rhode Island (15-4-0) at Connecticut (11-5-2)

Second Round:  Winner at #2 Indiana (17-2-1)