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.


Sixteen Teams Advance To The Second Round Of The 2019 NCAA Tournament - The Road To The College Cup

It was an interesting first round of play with several unexpected outcomes.  Offense firepower was on display with the winners of ten of the contests scoring three goals are more. The winners advanced to the second round of play on Sunday. 

Campbell 3 – James Madison 1 – This is the second year in a row that James Madison out of the CAA faced a team from the Big South Conference. Last year JMU topped High Point on the road to begin a run in the NCAA Tournament that took them to the Elite Eight.

This year the tables were turned as Campbell out of the Big South traveled to Harrisonburg and defeated JMU.  Campbell will now seek to make a similar run of their own as they advance to face number one seed Virginia on Sunday in Charlottesville.

Matt Lock, Bissafi Dotte and Thibaut Jacquel scored in the second half of play in Campbell’s first ever NCAA Tournament win in Division I play. Lock controlled and sent the rebound of teammate Alex Egeonu shot into the back of the frame in the fifty-fourth minute.  Dotte converted a header out of a corner kick served in by Eren Elbustu in the seventy-seventh minute and Jacquel scored after receiving a pass from Ian Rees in the eighty-first minute. Lewis Long IV precluded the shutout when he found the back of the net in the eighty-eighth minute for James Madsion.

Samuel Lechuga had one save in goal for Campbell while T.J. Bush had three saves between the pipes for James Madison.

Syracuse 3 – Rhode Island 2 – This very hard-fought NCAA Tournament match could have gone either way.

Rhode Island scored first in the thirty-first minute with forward Filippo Tamburini providing the goal out of a corner kick served in by defender Peder Kristiansen. Syracuse responded in the thirty-third minute to knot the score at 1-1 compliments of a header from freshman forward Luther Archimede with sophomore midfielder Ryan Raposo credited with the helper. Raposo then made it 2-1 Syracuse when he sent a shot into an empty net with senior forward Severin Soerlie contributing the pass and a move that set up the goal.  The teams went into the half time break with the Orange up 2-1.

Rhode Island continued to push and their efforts were rewarded in the seventieth minute with a goal from Noam Kolakofsky. The contest looked like it was headed to overtime but that changed when Archimede was taken down in the box in the eighty-seventh minute of the contest and Syracuse was awarded a penalty kick which Raposo decisively drove into the back of the net to score his fifteenth goal of the year and give Syracuse the edge they needed to win.

Christian Miesch had five saves in goal for Syracuse. Stefan Schidt had a single save in goal for Rhode Island.

Syracuse head coach Ian McIntyre stated, “Tonight was a typical NCAA Tournament game – a lot of emotion, two teams going tooth and nail. We knew this was going to be a difficult game and it went down to the wire. Goals change matches and we scored the last one tonight.”

Syracuse improves to 8-6-5 and advances to face St. John’s out of the Big East Conference on Sunday. Rhode Island concludes a very successful 2019 season with a 14-4-3 record.  

Missouri State 1 – Denver 0 – Missouri State secures their first ever NCAA Tournament win and advances to face number nine seed UCF in Orlando. Forward Matthew Bentley came up big once again for Missouri State when he alertly sent the deflection of defender Kyle Hiebert’s header into the back of the net in the seventy-second minute of the match to give the Bears the edge they needed to top a determined Denver team.  Michael Creek had a single save in goal to record the shutout for Missouri State. Will Palmquist had four saves in goal for Denver.

Missouri State head coach Jon Leamy stated, “This was an awesome night for the university and our fans, to come away with a win in front of this amazing crowd that stuck it out was really special. I thought the team did a great job of handling the rain and Denver’s attack and we were able to find a goal there in the second half.”

Denver head coach Jamie Franks stated, “I’m really proud of the effort of my guys tonight. Playing against an opponent that has scored over fifty percent of their goals off restarts, it’s unfortunate to give up the goal we did because overall, I thought we did pretty well with them. You miss one moment, you miss one block, you miss one header and that’s the game. The margin of error is really small.”

The Bears improve to 18-0-1 and establish a program record for the most wins in a single season. Denver concludes the year with a 6-12-3 overall record.  

Coastal Carolina 3 – NC State 2 (ot) – Seasons end abruptly in the NCAA Tournament with the difference between a win and a loss often very slight. That was the case in this contest which took place Friday night in Raleigh. It was an exhilarating win for Coastal Carolina out of the Sun Belt Conference and a frustrating loss for NC State out of the Atlantic Coast Conference. 

The Wolfpack took an early lead when midfielder David Loera skillfully placed a shot into the back of the frame in the twenty-second minute of play with midfielder Tyler Gabarra providing the helper. Midfielder Emile Rzepecki respond for Coastal Carolina when he sent a bending ball into the net out of a free kick from just outside the box to even things up at 1-1 in the thirty-seventieth minute. The teams went into intermission with the score 1-1.

Coastal Carolina went ahead 2-1 compliments of a Kasper Skraep header in the sixty-third minute with an assist from forward Tyrone Mondi. NC State pressed the attack and got new life when Loera scored in the seventy-fourth minute with junior midfielder Brad Sweeney and sophomore forward Kuda Muskwe putting together passes that set up the goal. The score remained 2-2 at the end of regulation. Coastal Carolina then got the break they were looking for when Mondi took advantage of a turnover to create the space he needed to push forward and slot a shot into the back of the frame for the win.

Coastal Carolina’s senior netminder Alberto Ciroi was the man of the match responding well to the pressure that he was placed under with several huge stops that were difference makers. Vinnie Durand had five saves in goal for NC State.

Coastal Carolina improves to 10-7-3 and advances to face number eight seed SMU in Dallas on Sunday. It was a disappointing “what might have been” loss due to the near misses for NC State but nonetheless the Pack closes out another promising season with a 9-7-3 overall record.  


Kentucky 2 – Loyola Chicago 1 – This one was a tale of two halves. Loyola Chicago got the best of the run of play in the first stanza and took a 1-0 lead in the thirty-fifth minute of play with Andrew Mitchell finding the back of the net out of a set piece that was set up by passes from Justin Sukow and Aidan Megally. The teams went into halftime with the Ramblers up by a goal. Kentucky began to pick up the pace of their attack in the second half and the physicality of the contest increased but Loyola continued to do a good job of containing the Wildcat offense. Kentucky got new life and the breakthrough they sought in the eighty-second minute of play when they were awarded a penalty kick that Jason Reyes converted to knot the score at 1-1. The teams concluded regulation and one overtime period without further scoring. Kentucky secured the win when freshman forward Eythor Bjorgolfsson came off the bench to convert a header in the second overtime period with an assist from sophomore back Robert Screen.

It was a hard-fought win for Kentucky and a heart-breaking loss for Loyola Chicago.

Loyola Chicago head coach Neil Jones stated, “We’re disappointed in the result, but filled with pride as to the team that we had out there tonight and the fight that we had for the entire game.”

Kentucky head coach Johan Cedergren stated, “You could tell we were a little nervous in the first half, didn’t play as well as we wanted. We had some really harsh words at halftime as a squad because I do think that in postseason play you kind of do have to lay everything on the line. Either you play as hard as you can and then the result is what the result is or you let the occasion get to you.”

Kentucky improves to 13-4-3 and advances to face number five seed Indiana on Sunday. Loyola Chicago closes out a very successful season with a 10-6-2 record.

UC Santa Barbara 3 – California 1 – The Gauchos out of the Big West Conference top California out of the Pac-12 Conference to avenge a 3-0 loss earlier in the year.  

Forward Rodney Michael got UCSB on the scoreboard and the Gaucho faithful on hand at Harder Stadium on their feet when he made a nice move off the dribble to create the space he needed to send a shot into the back of the frame in the seventeenth minute. Credit senior winger Thibault Candia with the helper on the play. California responded in the thirty-ninth minute with Christian Gomez scoring out of a free kick to pull the contest even at 1-1. The game remained tied at halftime.

UC Santa Barbara pulled away in the second stanza with Candia converting a penalty kick in the sixty-fifth minute and forward Will Baynham scoring out of a corner kick at close range in the seventy-third minute to conclude the scoring for the evening and send the Gauchos into the second round where they will face Saint Mary’s on Sunday.

Ben Roach had four saves between the pipes for UCSB. Drake Callender had three saves for California. The Gauchos improve to 14-4-4 while California drops to 8-7-3.

Wright State 3 – Notre Dame 2 – The Raiders made the most of their first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament by securing their first ever win in NCAA Tournament play when they invaded South Bend and came away with the biggest upset so far in the NCAA Tournament.

Wright State broke the ice in the twenty-seventh minute when defender Alex Hummel drove a header in the bottom corner of the goal after receiving a pass from teammate Deri Corfe. The teams went into intermission with the Raiders up a goal. 

Notre Dame came out firing in the second stanza with forward Jack Lynn, as he has often done, coming up with a big play for the Irish to knot the score at 1-1. It seemed at the time that Notre Dame was going to regain the momentum and take over the contest but that was not to be the case. Wright State continued to hold their own.

The Raiders then shocked the Irish with a goal from forward Zion Beaton in the seventieth minute that was set up by a nice move and pass from midfielder Stefan Rokvic followed by a goal from midfielder Deri Corfe in the seventy-second minute to make it a 3-1 contest. Forward John Rea scored for the Irish to narrow the gap to 3-2 in the eighty-fifth minute but that concluded the scoring.

Joel Sundell had five saves in goal for Wright State and Duncan Turnbull had two saves in goal for Notre Dame.   

Wright State head coach Jake Slemker stated, “It was an absolutely amazing performance by the guys. It means a lot to us, it means a lot to the team, it means a lot to the university. It was a pretty special night.”

Wright State out of the Horizon League improves to 11-8-3 and moves forward to face number thirteen seed Michigan on Sunday. Notre Dame concludes the 2019 campaign with a 10-8-1 record.

Maryland 4 – Iona 0 – This one was close for the first fifteen minutes of the match and then the defending national champions took control. Sophomore forward Justin Gielen scored the lone goal of the first half for Maryland in the twentieth minute of play from within the box after receiving a pass from Matt Di Rosa.

The Terps came out firing in the second stanza with forward Eric Matzelevich finding the back of the net in the sixty-fifth minute, midfielder Malcolm Johnson in the seventy-third minute and midfielder Luke Brown converting a penalty kick in the eighty-second minute.

Freshman Niklas Neumann had three saves in goal to notch the shutout for the Terps. Giuliano Santucci had six saves in goal for Iona.

Maryland improves to 11-7-2 and advances to face number four seed Wake Forest on Sunday in Winston-Salem. Iona out of the MAAC closes out a very productive year in which they earned the program’s first ever berth in the NCAA Tournament with a 14-5-1 record.  

Pittsburgh 2 – Lehigh 0 – Pitt continues to make program history with their first ever win in NCAA Tournament play after returning to the tournament field for the first time since the 1965 season. Lehigh came out on the front foot pressing the attack but the momentum shifted to Pitt when Edward Kizza scored for the Panthers in the eighteenth minute of play with a double assist from Arturo Ordonez and Alexander Dexter. Brice Washington added the second goal in the closing minutes of the first half after receiving a nice cross from freshman Josh Hesson.

Pitt head coach Jay Vidovich stated, “We are very excited to get our first victory in the NCAA Tournament. Hats off to Lehigh, who is coming off a championship, they were a great foe.” He added, “It was great to go into the half with a two-goal lead but we still feel like we squandered some chances there in the second half that we could’ve really put the game away.”

Pittsburgh continues to impress as they improve to 10-7-2 and advance to the second round of play where they will tangle with number three seed Georgetown. Lehigh, who won both the Patriot League regular season and tournament titles, ends a successful season with a 13-5-4 record.  

Louisville 4 – South Florida 1 – Louisville avenges a 2-0 early season loss to South Florida with a larger than anticipated four goal performance and win when it counted the most in this first round contest.  

Louisville got on the board when midfielder Bradley Sample scored out of a corner kick put in play by Leonard Getz in the twenty-first minute. Sophomore forward Pedro Fonesca then made it 2-0 just two minutes later when he scored from just outside the box after receiving a long pass from Sample. The contest remained 2-0 at halftime.

South Florida pulled one back and looked like they might make it a game when midfielder Josue Monge drove a header into the goal out of a throw-in in the sixty-eighth minute. But junior forward Izaiah Jennings scored less than a minute later and Louisville regained a two goal advantage. Cherif Dieye made a nice move off the dribble to create the space he needed to score from twenty yards out in the eighty-second minute to give Louisville a 4-1 lead. The goal was Dieye’s seventh of the season to date.  

Louisville ups their record to 9-7-2 and takes to the road to face UC Davis on Sunday in what looks to be a competitive second round game. South Florida closes out the 2019 season with a 10-7-1 record.

West Virginia 5 – Butler 1 – The margin of victory in this one between the Mountaineers out of the MAC and Butler out of the Big East was unexpected.  West Virginia had their most complete game of the year while Butler had trouble getting into a rhythm and had to chase the game.  

Freshman forward Rodrigo Robles Grajera converted a penalty kick in the third minute of play to give the Mountaineers an early lead but Butler equalized with a goal from Rhys Myers out of a corner kick in the twenty-first minute of play. Andres Muriel Albino then scored for West Virginia in the thirty-sixth minute to put the Mountaineers back on top 2-1. The contest remained 2-1 at halftime.

West Virginia put the contest on ice when sophomore forward Josh DiMatteo scored in the eightieth minute, Robles Grajera netted his second goal of the evening in the eighty-first minute, and DiMatteo converted for the second time on the day in the eighty-fourth minute.

West Virginia coach Marlon LeBlanc stated, “It was a great performance. We went out, executed, and we had a great game plan for a very, very good Butler team that obviously deserved to be here, as well. But we were clicking tonight.”

West Virginia improves to 10-8-2 and advances to face number eleven seed Marshall on Sunday. Butler ends the 2019 season with an 11-6-2 record.

Boston College 3 - Yale 0 – Boston College scored three goals in the first half of play and was able to power past a normally solid Yale defense that had previously only allowed an opponent to score more than once in one contest.    

Midfielder Kristofer Konradsson made a nice cut on the dribble to secure the angle he needed to drive a left-footed shot just inside the near post to open the scoring in the sixteenth minute of the match. It looked like it was going to be a close contest but the Eagles took a 3-0 lead into halftime after midfielder Mike Suski sent a one-timer into the back of the frame in the thirty-ninth minute and freshman forward Stefan Sigurdarson scored for the eighth time this year in the forty-third minute. The teams went into intermission with Boston College holding a commanding lead that they never relinquished.    

Yale head coach Kylie Stannard stated, “It’s always tough to end the season and especially when it’s been such an amazing ride. I’m incredibly proud of this team and especially the seniors.”  

Boston College out of the Atlantic Coast Conference improves to 9-5-3 and will travel cross country to face number six seed Washington on Sunday. Ivy League Champion Yale ends a banner season with a 13-3-2 record which they will look to build upon.

Seattle 3 – Loyola Marymount 1 – Seattle traveled to Los Angeles and increased their unbeaten streak to fifteen contests.  Seattle’s Connor Noblat scored the lone goal of the first half in the forty-first minute with a double assist from Julian Avila-Good and Hamish Ritchie.  The contest remained 1-0 at halftime.

Duhaney Williams scored for LMU in the fifty-third minute to knot the score at 1-1. Gerardo Lopez and Narciso Cervantes assisted on the goal. It seemed like the momentum might shift to the Lions but Seattle regained control and the lead when Jesse Ortiz sent a bending ball into the back of the frame out of a free kick from twenty-two yards out in the fifty-third minute. Harrison Kurtz extended the Redhawks advantage to 3-1 when he scored in the seventy-ninth minute with a double assist from Declan McGlynn and Noe Meza.

Seattle head coach Pete Fewing stated, “I’m thrilled for the guys on this team. LMU does a great job and it was a good game tonight. I was really pleased with the response after LMU tied it up in the second half. It was a complete effort - we had guys come off the beach (and score twice).”

Seattle improves to 15-3-4 and advances to face number seven seed Stanford on Sunday. LMU concludes a very productive season in which they returned to the NCAA Tournament field for the first time since 2013 with a 11-6-3 record.   

New Hampshire 1 – Fairleigh Dickinson 0 – Defense ruled in this one. The contest was scoreless at the end of the first half but freshman Bilal Kamal’s first collegiate goal in the second stanza was a big one.  Kamal’s shot into the upper right corner of the net in the seventy-sixth minute of play gave New Hampshire the advantage that they needed to survive and advance.   

Alejandro Robles had four saves in goal for a New Hampshire defense that has only allowed a total of seven goals to date. Jahmali Waite had six saves in goal for FDU.

New Hampshire improves to 15-1-3 and advances to the second round where they will face Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.  Fairleigh Dickinson which won the NEC Conference Tournament last weekend concludes their season with a 7-9-4 record.

Providence 2 – NJIT 0 – The Friars took the early lead behind a goal from Trevor Davock in the tenth minute of play. The one goal lead remained intact at halftime. Esben Wolf added the second goal in the sixty-fifth minute when he sent a shot into the lower right corner of the goal. Providence had a seventeen to eleven advantage in shots and a nine to two edge in shots on goal.

Austin Aviza had two saves in goal for Providence to record the shutout. Samuel Reisgys, the ASUN Goalkeeper of the Year, had seven saves in goal for NJIT.

Providence improves to 15-6-0 while NJIT closes out a stellar season in which they had a 10-5-4 record, won the ASUN regular season and tournament titles, and earned the program’s first ever invite to the NCAA Tournament.

Providence out of the Big East Conference advances to the second round where they will face number fifteen seed Penn State on Sunday.

Charlotte 3 – Mercer 1 – Mercer sent a scare into the fans at Transamerica Field in Charlotte when midfielder Joshua Harrison scored in the fourteenth minute of play to secure an early 1-0 advantage. Charlotte responded with goals from defender Luke Johnson in the twenty-third minute and midfielder Chance Pellerin in the thirty-ninth minute to take a 2-1 lead into intermission. Defender Patrick Hogan added the third Charlotte goal in the eighty-fourth minute.

Charlotte head coach Kevin Langan stated, “Down a goal in a playoff game can really unnerve you. I actually thought it settled us. After the goal we settled down well and got on top and scored two great ones.”

Elliot Panicco had five saves in goal for Charlotte. JR DeRose had one save between the pipes for Mercer.

Charlotte improves to 12-3-4 and advances to face number two seed Clemson. Mercer concludes a very successful season with a 14-6-0 record.

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.