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.  


Six Games To Key An Eye On This Weekend - College Soccer Coast To Coast

There are plenty of great college soccer games on tap this weekend as teams vie for NCAA Tournament berths and seeding in the NCAA Tournamet. Six of the most intriguing are outlined below.  

UC Santa Barbara (12-3-4) vs. UC Davis (12-4-2) - The Gauchos and Aggies collide on Friday night in Davis, California with the Big West Conference title on the line and the automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament that accompanies it.  The two teams tied 1-1 when they faced each other in Davis on October 23. This is a gut check "something has to give" contest which makes it among the more interesting and exciting championship matches. 

Defense has been UC Davis' calling card.  Veteran senior netminder Wallis Lapsley and junior backs Nabi Kibunguchy and Jake Haupt are part of a Aggie defense that has only allowed a total of twelve goals and posted eight shutouts. Adam Mickelson (4g, 5a) is the go-to guy on the offensive side of the ball for UC Davis.  

The Aggies are no stranger to the championship match having played their way into it the past three years. UC Davis belongs on the short list of teams for which the sum of the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts. In other words, they play well together as a team which is a big plus and advantage in a sport in which there are so many moving parts.  

UC Santa Barbara has not fared well in Big West Tournament play and are highly motivated to get that monkey off their backs. The Gauchos are making their first appearance in the Big West championship game since 2015. One of the keys for the Gauchos is finding the right balance between applying pressure on the offensive side of the ball and remaining organized defensively.  Forward Rodney Michael (5g, 8a) and attacking midfielders Thibault Candia (6g, 6a) and Fin Ballard McBride (9g, 2a) add punch to a UCSB attack that has netted a total of thirty-seven goals so far this year. They are difference makers who equip UCSB with the type of playmaking ability that UC Davis may have difficulty containing for a full ninety minutes. Sophomore goalkeeper Ben Davis, backs Noah Billingsley and Hunter Ashworth and defensive midfielder Sahid Conteh are among the members of a Gaucho defense that has allowed eighteen goals.  

Statistically UC Davis has the edge on the defensive side of the ball while UC Santa Barbara has been more productive on the offensive side. Forget that, the outcome of this one is going to be going to be determined by which team maintains its composure, does the things well that have gotten them to this point, and gets into a rhythm early on. 

Providence (14-5-0) vs. Georgetown (14-1-3) - This Big East Tournament final which will take place on Sunday in Washington belongs on the upset watch list. Georgetown is among the most talented teams in the country but Providence comes into the contest with a ton of momentum with a resume that includes six consecutive wins during which they have outscored their opponents fourteen to four.  Georgetown comes into the Big East Championship match off a 1-1 tie with Creighton and a 2-2 tie with Butler. 

This one will likely be decided by who is able to get the best of the run of play in the middle third of the field with Georgetown's Jacob Montes and Sean Zawadski and Providence's Tiago Mendonca, Paulo Lima and Danny Griffin among those who will have an impact on that. Chances are pretty good that the play of redshirt senior back Joao Serrano for Providence and Georgetown senior back and team captain Dylan Nealis will also figure into the outcome since both have demonstrated big play ability all year.

Georgetown defeated the Friars when the two teams faced each other back on September 28 but that is ancient history at this point. The Hoyas are tough to top when they get into a rhythm but they are vulnerable when they are not. Georgetown could be in trouble if they come out flat against a confident Providence team that seems to be playing its best soccer of the year at the right time.

Indiana (13-2-3) vs. Maryland (10-6-2) - Indiana returns to the scene of the crime in this Big Ten Tournament semifinal contest which is slated for Friday in College Park, Maryland.  The Terps gave the Hoosiers a wakeup call when they halted their thirty-two match Big Ten regular season unbeaten streak with a 3-0 win in College Parkback on October 18. Maryland took a 1-0 lead in the fifteenth minute of play in that contest and never looked back. The Hoosiers had a ten to eight advantage in shots but none of them were on goal. Indiana's defense anchored by Jack Maher, Simon Weaver and Spencer Glass among others and freshman goalkeeper Roman Celentano will need to do a better job of handling the pressure that Maryland will bring, particularly in the early going, if they want to avoid a repeat of what happened in the last contest.  

Maryland has played very well at times but lapses in play on the defensive side of the ball perhaps fueled by injuries have hampered their consistency and effectiveness.  This is a very good but not vintage Maryland team with a small margin for error. That means they have to put together a full ninety minute shift, as they did when they faced IU during regular season play, in order to top the Hoosiers. Maryland matches up well with Indiana so if they play with the same level of intensity that they did in the prior contest they have a good chance of advancing to the championship game.  Midfielder Eli Crognale (4g, 5a) and forward Eric Matzzelevich (5g, 1a) are keys to the Terp attack. Backs Johannes Bergmann, Brett St. Martin, and Ben and Matt  DiRosa anchor the defense along with freshman netminder NIklas Neumann.  

Clemson (16-1-1) vs. Virginia (16-1-1) - This Atlantic Coast Conference championship game will take place on Sunday at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina. It is a classic!  The two teams didn't face each other during regular season play. College Soccer News has Virginia as the number one team in the country and Clemson as the number two team.  Both teams look to be set for one of the top four seeds in the upcoming NCAA Tournament but this one will impact which seed. 

Both teams play well on both sides of the ball but Clemson is among the best in the country on offense with an attack led by Robbie Robinson (15g, 9a), Kimani Smith (13g, 5a), Grayson Barber (9g, 8a) and freshman Philip Mayaka (2g, 8a) that has scored a total of sixty-four goals against a highly competitive slate of opponents.  On the other hand, goalkeeper Colin Shutler and backs Henry Kessler, Andreas Ueland and Robin Afameufuna are part of a Virginia defense that has only allowed a total of six goals while playing a very demanding schedule.

Despite the strengths of both teams, Clemson's play on the defensive side of the ball and Virginia's ability to effectively apply pressure on the offensive side of the ball will have a big impact on the outcome. Clemson does not want to give up a goal and have to chase Virginia. The Cavaliers are playing with fire if they play on their back foot and put themselves in a position where they are continually under pressure on the defensive side of the ball. This one has all the ingredients for a great college soccer contest.  

Lafayette (9-6-5) vs. Lehigh (12-4-3) - This Patriot League title match will take place Saturday with number one seed Lehigh hosting number four seed Lafayette at Ulrich Sports Complex. The number one seed would normally be the favorite but you can forget seeding when it comes to the Patriot League Tournament where more often than not the higher seed, particularly the number one seed, does not prevail. In addition, the two teams tied 0-0 in a game that featured forty fouls when they squared off on October 26 at the Ulrich Sports Complex.  

Expect no prisoners to be taken in this one which will likely be a defensive battle with the winner being the side that does not squander the scoring opportunities that come their way.  Fasten your seatbelts as this one should be a battle.  A single goal could prove to be the difference. 

Michigan (10-4-4) vs. Penn State (12-2-3) - This Big Ten semifinal game will be played on Friday at Ludwig Field in College Park, Maryland. The Wolverines have had somewhat of an up and down season but look to be on an upswing with a 4-0-1 mark in their last five contests that included wins over Notre Dame 1-0 and Maryland 4-2. Michigan is a dangerous team with an attack powered by Nebojsa Popovic (10g, 3a) and Jack Hallahan (4g, 6a) among others and a midfield driven by playmaker Marc Ybarra (0g, 8a. ). Freshman Owen Finnerty has been the starter in goal for the past three games taking over for the injured Andrew Verdi who was named the 2019 Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year.  

Penn State has had a banner season and will come into this game with a 7-0-1 mark in their last eight contests. This is Penn State's first appearance in the conference semifinal since the 2009 season so they are sailing in uncharted waters.  Senior midfielder  Andrew Molloy (8g, 6a), freshman forward Liam Butts (9g, 1a) who has five game-winners, and senior forward Christian Sload (5g, 5a) have played key roles in the success that Penn State has enjoyed on the offensive side of the ball this year.  Look for them to put pressure on Finnerty and the Michigan backline. 

The two teams tied 0-0 when they faced each other in regular season play. Michigan will likely press the attack in the early going but that should even out as the game progresses. Penn State has been the more consistent team throughout the year but Michigan seems to have renewed energy and focus. Whoever scores first will have a huge advantage but it may take two goals to secure the win in what looks to be a contest that could go either way.