Several Things You Might Want To Know About The 2019 NCAA Tournament Field

The ACC was the big winner with ten teams in the forty-eight team tournament. Three teams will be making their first ever appearance. There were upsets in conference tournaments but they didn't have the impact on at-large berths this year that they have had at times in the past. 

It feels like the very first time.

Wright State, NJIT and Iona are appearing in the Division I NCAA Tourney for the first time in program history. The standard regarding what can be attained has forever been raised for those programs.

Hoosier Staying Power  

Indiana has earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament field for the thirty-third consecutive season but with so many freshmen in key roles it will be the first time for many on the pitch for Indiana. 

An Unexpected Run  

It is not uncommon for an unexpected team to make a deep run in the NCAA Tourney. There is a lot more parity in college soccer than ever before but some programs don't get the press and perhaps respect that others do. Last year James Madison got hot and advanced to the Elite Eight leaving several ACC teams in their wake.  New Hampshire, Yale, UC Davis, Loyola Chicago, and James Madison once again are among those who could get hot and make a sustained run in the tourney this year.    

The Tourney Field

There were not a lot of surprises this year in terms of the at-large berths awarded. The makeup of the tournament field is somewhat different than what was expected due to upsets in conference tournaments and the automatic berths awarded. However, the upsets didn’t have the impact on the distribution of at-large berths that it has at times in the past because the upsets occurred in conferences in which only the automatic berth received an invite.     

Coastal Carolina (Sun Belt), Iona (MAAC), Denver (Summit League), Wright State (Horizon League), West Virginia (MAC), Fairleigh Dickinson (NEC), Mercer (Southern Conference) and Loyola Chicago (MVC) were upset conference tournament winners who were not the regular season winner.  With the exception of the MVC where regular season winner Missouri State (17-0-1) was awarded an at-large berth since Loyola Chicago earned the automatic berth, none of the tournament upsets shown above resulted in the award of an at-large berth to another conference member.  With an RPI of 34, Loyola Chicago may have been awarded an at-large berth had they not won the conference tournament.

Debatable At-Large Selections

California (8-6-3) with a 4-4-2 mark in Pac-12 play looks to be the at-large selection that is debatable.  True, the Golden Bears strengthened their resume with wins over Washington and Stanford at the end of the season and they had a good 3-0 win over UC Santa Barbara early in the season but an RPI of forty-nine was not a selling point. California will face UC Santa Barbara in the first round of the NCAA Tournament with the winner advancing to face Saint Mary’s.

Left Standing At The Alter  

Central Arkansas and FIU were among the teams that were not awarded an at-large berth that appeared deserving. Central Arkansas out of the Sun Belt Conference had a 10-7-1 overall record, 4-1-0 mark in conference play, and an RPI of twenty-nine. They weakened their case when they were upset by Georgia State in the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference tournament. Nonetheless, Central Arkansas’ RPI of twenty-nine was the best of all the teams not selected and was better than several of the teams selected.

FIU out of CUSA was 11-2-4 overall with a 4-2-1 mark in conference play. The Panthers were eliminated by Charlotte in the CUSA Tournament semifinals 1-0. They had an RPI of thirty-six with signature wins over James Madison and Kentucky but hurt their case for a berth when they went 1-3-2 in their last six games and were eliminated in the CUSA Tournament semifinals by Charlotte 1-0.  

Who Would Have Thought It?

North Carolina (7-7-4), Duke (7-9-2), Akron (6-10-2) and Michigan State (3-12-3) are among the premier programs in the country. They are normally in the tournament field but didn’t have the type of season this year that they normally have so didn’t get to go dancing.  Last year Akron and Michigan State advanced to the College Cup.  


SMU’s (16-1-1) number eight seed seemed low since they had an RPI of three.

It was a surprise to find that Missouri State (17-0-1) with an RPI of twelve didn’t receive one of the top sixteen seeds.

Vulnerable seeds? Time Will Tell  

Number fourteen seed UC Davis could have a difficult time against the winner of the Louisville and UCF contest. Number fifteen seed Penn State will be challenged by the winner of the Providence and NJIT game.  Number sixteen St. John’s (13-4-1) has struggled down the home stretch going 1-3-1 in their last five games and could have a difficult time with the winner of the Rhode Island and Syracuse contest.

Tora Tora Tora

Saint Mary’s Anders Engebretsen (16g, 8a), James Madison’s Manuel Ferriol (16g, 6a), UCF’s Cal Jennings (16g, 4a), SMU’s Garrett McLaughlin (15g,5a) and Clemson’s Robbie Robinson (15g, 9a) are explosive goal scorers who are capable of scoring in multiples. Campbell’s Thibaut Jacquel (17g, 5a) and NJIT’s Rene White (17g, 2a) don’t get the same press but they are also among the best finishers in the county.  

Defense Rules 

Virginia (0.37 goals allowed per game). New Hampshire (0.39), Georgetown (0.47), Charlotte (0.61), Stanford (0.61), Missouri State (0.59), Washington (0.61), UC Davis (0.63) and Yale (0.65) are among the teams in the tournament that are tenacious on the defensive side of the ball.

Team Offense

Clemson (65 goals), SMU (57 goals), Campbell (56 goals) and Saint Mary’s (47 goals) are among the top goal scoring teams in the tournament.

Big Ten Power  

Last year three of the four teams that advanced to the College Cup were from the Big Ten (Maryland, Indiana, Michigan State). That is not going to happen this year. Indiana, Michigan, Maryland and Penn State are the four teams from the Big Ten in the tournament this year. Indiana, Michigan and Maryland are all in the same bracket so only one of them can potentially advance to the College Cup. Penn State is in a separate bracket.

Atlantic Coast Conference RPI Power  

Ten teams in the ACC earned a berth into the NCAA Tournament. (Virginia, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, Syracuse, NC State, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Boston College) The RPI of individual teams is a big factor in the selection of the teams that will receive an at-large berth.  ACC is hands down the strongest conference in the country from top to bottom. All of the ten teams are very competitive but some might question whether or not ten of the twelve teams in the conference should earn a berth.  A strong showing in the tournament would establish otherwise.

How Good - Unanswered Questions  

Saint Mary’s (16-1-0) out of the West Coast Conference and Missouri State (17-0-1) out of the Missouri Valley Conference won a lot of games this year. It will be interesting to see how they fare in the tournament.  Saint Mary’s will face the winner of the UC Santa Barbara and California game.  A win in that one will likely match them up with number five seed Indiana on the road.  Missouri State hosts Denver in the first round. If they win, they will travel to Orlando to tangle with number nine seed UCF.    

West Coast  

Washington, Stanford and California out of the Pac-12. Saint Mary’s out of the West Coast Conference. UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara out of the Big West Conference and Seattle out of the Western Athletic Conference represent the west coast in the tournament.

A run by two or three of them to the Elite Eight or beyond would tend to support the viewpoint of those who believe that the teams from the west coast are not given their due when it comes to national standing.  Early exits might indicate otherwise. It will be interesting. #12 seed Saint Mary’s, UCSB, and California are in the Wake Forest bracket. #6 seed Washington and #14 seed UC Davis are in the Georgetown bracket. #7 seed Stanford and Seattle are in the Clemson bracket.


2019 NCAA Tournament Bracket - The Road To The College Cup (Final Four)

It is survive and advance time once again. The "one and you are done" single loss elimination NCAA Tournament is about to get underway. The forty-eight team field has been announced and it is now all about the journey along the road with the desired destination the College Cup at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina. 

Virginia, Clemson, Georgetown and Wake Forest were awarded the top four seeds which means they could play their to Cary without ever leaving the friendly confines of their home stadium.

All sixteen first-round contests will take place on Thursday, November 21 at venues throughout the country. The sixteen first round winners will advance to the second round which is scheduled for Sunday, November 24 hosted by the sixteen seeds. The third round (Sweet Sixteen) will take place on Saturday, November 30 or Sunday, December 1. The quarterfinals (Elite Eight) will take place on Friday, December 6 or Saturday, December 7 with the highest seed of the two opponents hosting.

The College Cup (Final Four) semifinals will take place on Friday, December 13 with the two winners advancing to play for the 2019 National Championship on Sunday, December 15.  

#1 Virginia Bracket

First Round: Campbell (16-2-2) at James Madison (11-6-3)

Second Round: Winner at #1 Virginia (17-1-1)

First Round: Rhode Island (14-3-3) at Syracuse (7-6-5)

Second Round: Winner at #16 St. John's (13-4-1)

First Round: Denver (6-11-3) at Missouri State (17-0-1)

Second Round: Winner at #9 UCF (14-2-2)

First Round: Coastal Carolina (9-7-3) at NC State (9-6-3)

Second Round: Winner at #8 SMU (16-1-1)

#4 Wake Forest Bracket 

First Round: Loyola Chicago (11-4-4) at Kentucky (12-4-3)

Second Round: Winner at #5 Indiana (14-2-4)

First Round: California (8-6-3) at UC Santa Barbara (12-4-4)

Second Round: Winner at #12 Saint Mary's (16-1-0) 

First Round: Wright State (10-8-3) at Notre Dame (10-7-1)

Second Round: Winner at Michigan (11-4-5)

First Round: Iona (14-5-1) at Maryland (10-7-2) 

Second Round: Winner at #4 Wake Forest (13-4-2)

#3 Georgetown Bracket 

First Round: Lehigh (13-4-3) at Pittsburgh (9-7-2)

Second Round: Winner at #3 Georgetown (15-1-3)

First Round: South Florida (10-6-1) at Louisville (8-7-2)

Second Round: Winner at #14 UC Davis (13-4-2)

First Round: West Virginia (9-8-2) at Butler (11-6-2)

Second Round: Winner at #11 Marshall (15-2-3)

First Round: Yale (13-2-2) at Boston College (8-5-3)

Second Round: Winner at Washington (15-3-0)

#2 Clemson Bracket

First Round: Seattle University (14-3-4) at Loyola Marymount (11-5-3)

Second Round: Winner at #7 Stanford (13-2-3)

First Round: Fairleigh Dickinson (7-8-4) at New Hampshire (14-1-3)

Second Round: Winner at #10 Virginia Tech (9-5-3)

First Round: NJIT (10-4-4) at Providence (14-6-0)

Second Round: Winner at #15 Penn State (12-3-3)

First Round: Mercer (14-6-0) at Charlotte (11-3-4)

Second Round: Winner at #2 Clemson (16-2-1)

A Look At What Happened On Friday Night In Key College Soccer Contests Coast To Coast

Finalists for many conference tournaments were determined on Friday night. Some contests went as anticipated but as is always the case their were several upsets. The action continues on Saturday and Sunday with automatic berths and seeding in the NCAA Tournament on the line. 

Washington 3 - Oregon State 1 - The Huskies secure the Pac-12 title with an 8-2-0 mark in conference play.  Junior midfielder Blake Bodily broke the ice in the tenth minute of play when he finished a cross from Lucas Meek to give Washington a 1-0 lead.  The contest remained 1-0 at halftime.  Oregon State got on the board in the second half when back Loke Strenov controlled a loose ball in the box and sent it into the back of the frame to knot the score at 1-1. Senior midfielder Joey Parish answered for Washington scoring twice in the seventy-eighth minute to make it 3-1 Washington. Sam Fowler had one save in goal for the Huskies. Adrian Fernandez had three stops in goal for the Beavers.

Indiana 1 - Maryland 0 (ot) - Indiana advances to the Big Ten title match behind  a solid team effort on the defensive side of the ball and a successful penalty kick in the 103rd minute of play by sophomore back Jack Maher.  Indiana had a twenty-two to six advantage in shots for the evening.  Freshman goalkeeper Roman Celetano had two saves in goal for the Hoosiers while Niklas Neumann had an eight save evening in goal for Maryland.  Indiana improves to 14-2-3 overall and advances to face Michigan in the championship contest.  The Terps drop to 10-7-2 and await an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament.

Missouri State 1 - Drake 0 - Josh Dolling's goal out of a free kick in the sixty-seventh minute of play  with an assist from Jack Denton and solid team defense gave Missouri State the edge they need to secure the win in this Missouri Valley Conference semifinal match. The goal was Dolling's fifth game-winner of the season to date.  Missouri State has allowed a total of only ten goals so far this year. Michael Creek had three saves in goal for Missouri State and Luke Anderson had two saves between the pipes for Drake.  The Bears continue to roll as they improve to 17-0-0 and advance to face Loyola Chicago on Sunday in the championship match.

Bowling Green - 1 - Akron 0 - Junior midfielder Chris Sullivan sent a shot into the upper corner of the goal from the corner of the box in the seventeenth minute that proved to be the difference in this Mid-American Conference semifinal contest.  The goal was Sullivan's seventh of the year. The Falcons return to the title game for the first time since 2014. Anthony Mwembia had four saves in goal to anchor a solid Bowling Green defense.  Tor Saunders had one save in goal for Akron.  Bowling Green will face West Virginia in the championship match on Sunday.  The Falcons defeated West Virginia 3-0 when they faced each other back on October 26.  

West Virginia 3 - Western Michigan 2 - Josh Dimatteo scored twice and defender Albert Andres-Lipp converted a penalty kick that resulted from a foul in the box on forward Tony Pineda to enable the number six seeded Mountaineers to upset number two seed Western Michigan to advance to the championship match of the Mid-American Conference.  Paul Liagre and Daniel Nimick scored for Western Michigan.  The Mountaineers will face Bowling Green on Sunday in the championship match.  West Virginia head coach Marion LeBlanc stated, "We're really looking forward to getting to play on Sunday. It's a one game opportunity to get into the NCAA Tournament."   

Loyola Chicago 2 - Bradley 1 - These two teams tied 0-0 twice when they faced each other during regular season play.  Loyola Chicago was the aggressor in this one but Bradley got on the board in the fifteenth minute of play when a pass by Bradley defender Jack Lang deflected into the back of the frame off a Loyola Chicago defender.  Loyola Chicago knotted the score at 1-1 and got new life when midfielder Aidan Megally converted a penalty kick to net his tenth goal of the season. Midfielder Justin Sukow netted the game-winner for Loyola Chicago when he place a shot inside the left post after receiving a pass from Alex Moskal to make it 2-1. The goal was Sukow's ninth of the season.  Loyola Chicago improves to 11-4-3 and advances to face Missouri State in the championship contest on Sunday.

Michigan 1 - Penn State 0 - These two teams played to a scoreless tie when they faced each other back on September 27.  As expected, this one was close but a picture perfect goal from Michigan senior forward Jack Hallahan out of a free-kick in the sixty-second minute and lock down play on the defensive side of the ball gave the Wolverines the edge they needed to secure the win.  Freshman Owen Finnerty, playing in place of injured netminder Andrew Verdi, had two saves in goal while the Wolverine backline limited Penn State to only six shots.  Kris Shakes had four saves in goal for Penn State.  Michigan improves to 11-4-4 and advances to face Indiana in the Big Ten final on Sunday.  Penn State is now 12-3-3 and will await an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament.

UC Davis 2 - UC Santa Barbara 0 - This one was played before a crowd of 1,308 fans at Aggie Soccer Field in Davis, California. UC Davis continues to impress. This one looked like it might be scoreless until a goal from Andy Velasquez with an assist from Robert Mejia in the fifty-fifth minute gave UC Davis a 1-0 advantage.  Kristina Heptner made it 2-0 when he scored in the closing minute of regulation with Mickelson providing the helper to put this one on ice. UC Davis secures the Big West Tournament title and the automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament that goes with it. Willis Lapsley had a single save in goal for the Aggies to secure his ninth shutout of the year.  Ben Roach had five saves in goal for the Gauchos who drop to 12-4-4 and await the receipt of an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament.  

Marshall 1 - Kentucky 0 - Neither team could break through until Vinicius Fernandes found the back of the frame from close range in the seventy-seventh minute that was set up by a cross from Jamil Roberts. The goal was Fernandes' second of the year and the helper was Roberts' tenth of the season to date.  Kentucky had an eleven shot evening but only one was on frame. Paulo Pita recorded the shutout in goal for Marshall. Enrique Facusse had three stops in goal for Kentucky. Marshall  improves to 14-2-3 and advances to face Charlotte in the CUSA Championship match. Kentucky is now 13-4-3 and awaits an at-large invite to the NCAA Tournament.

Charlotte 1 - FIU 0 - Senior midfielder Teddy Chaouche comes up big for the 49ers once again when he drove a header into the back of the goal after receiving a cross from junior midfielder Joe Brito in the fourteenth minute of the game. A stout Charlotte defense led in goal by Elliot Panicco recorded their eighth shutout of the season.  The 49ers advance to the CUSA title match for the third year in a row where they will face a Marshall team that they tied 0-0 in regular season play.

Seattle 1 - UC Bakersfield 0 - This defensive oriented contest was decided by an own goal in the sixty-fifth minute.  Akili Kasim had four saves in goal for Seattle while Detre Bell had six saves in goal for UC Bakersfield.  Seattle had a sixteen to thirteen advantage in shots for the day. Seattle head coach Pete Fewing pretty much summed things up when he stated, "We gutted it out today. It wasn't the prettiest game, but we got it done"  Seattle advances to the WAC Tournament title match to face a Utah Valley team that they topped 2-1 in overtime when the two teams met during regular season play.  Utah Valley advanced past Air Force in a contest that was decided by a penalty kick shootout after it was scoreless at the end of regulation and extra time.

Rhode Island 0 - Fordham 0 (ot) - This one was scoreless at the conclusion of 110 minutes of play. Rhode Island advanced after prevailing seven to six in a penalty kick shootout. The Rams advance to the Atlantic 10 Championship contest on Sunday where they will square off with Dayton who beat VCU 1-0. Rhode Island and Dayton did not face each other during regular season play. Rhode Island is 13-3-3 and Dayton 13-7-0.

Georgia State 1 - Central Arkansas 0 - Georgia State advances to their fifth consecutive Sun Belt Conference final with back Alex Summerfield's goal from the left side of the box in the seventy-sixth minute the difference along with a solid bend but don't brake performance on the defensive side of the ball from backs Summerfield, Kyle Clinton, George Proctor and goalkeeper Paul Tyson who had five saves.  Marc Olsen had a single save in goal for Central Arkansas. Georgia State advances to the championship match on Sunday where they will face Coastal Carolina.

Coastal Carolina 2 - Appalachian State 1 - Defender Kasper Skraep headed in a rebound and forward Sam Smaith converted a header out of a corner kick served in by defender Timm Morten to give Coastal Carolina a 2-0 advantage at halftime. Appalachian State pulled one back in the second half when freshman defender Myson Darden drove a header into the back of the frame after receiving a cross from midfielder Dimitris Moraikakis.  Coastal Carolina improves to 9-7-2 while Appalachian State drops to 11-7-1.  

Fairleigh Dickinson 0 - Saint Francis 0 (ot) - Fairleigh Dickinson advanced in a penalty kick shootout 3-1 after the contest was scoreless at the conclusion of 110 minutes of play. Both teams attacked but defense ruled the day in this unexpected result.  FDU head coach Seth Roland stated, "Anyone who would say a 0-0 soccer game is boring just missed an exciting one. Both teams hit the post two or three times, so it was pretty exciting."  Saint Francis had a twenty-five to fourteen advantage in shots and a seven to four advantage in shots of goal.  Jahmali Waite had seven saves in goal for FDU.  Fairleigh Dickinson advances to the NEC championship game on Sunday to face an LIU team that advanced by defeating Bryant 4-0.