Reflections on the 2019 NCAA Tournament

A look back and a few thoughts about the 2019 NCAA Tournament.

Georgetown secures its first ever national championship.

Championship contests, like the Super Bowl, often don’t live up to the hype surrounding them. Sunday’s College Soccer National Championship match in which Georgetown prevailed 7-6 in a penalty kick shootout with Virginia after the contest was tied 3-3 at the conclusion of regulation and two overtime periods lived up to the hype and then some.    

For starters, the Cavaliers and the Hoyas were ranked in the number one and two spots in both the United Soccer Coaches and College Soccer News regular season ending polls. Virginia was the number one seed in the NCAA Tournament and Georgetown the number three seed. Virginia won the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division regular season title and the ACC Tournament. Georgetown won both the Big East Conference regular season and tournament titles.  Both teams had explosive finishers, linkmen with get vision and touch on the ball, rock solid defenders with the ability to push forward out of the back to add an additional dimension to the offense, goalkeepers who were composed and talented shot stoppers, and veteran coaches who know what it takes to win at the highest level.

Both teams had the balance between offensive productivity and tenacity on the defensive side of the ball that yields the confidence as well as the trust on both sides of the ball among teammates that must exist in order to play an attack-oriented style of soccer that is both exciting to watch and play.  

A penalty kick shootout always seems like a harsh and inadequate way to decide a national champion particularly when both teams are as deserving of a national championship as Georgetown and Virginia. However, in this particular contest it seemed to be an appropriate, although abrupt and heartbreaking way to settle the contest, because both teams had given it their all for a full one-hundred and ten minutes of play leaving nothing on the field of play. Neither team packed the back or hunkered down in a defensive mode as time ran down hoping that a shootout might provide the best opportunity to prevail.  Had either team secured a two-goal advantage the tempo may have changed but that didn’t prove to be the case. This one was worthy of the talent that both teams have.  It was a run and gun game from the get-go with both teams taking it to their opponent. 

It was a great win for the Hoyas and a heartbreaker for the Cavaliers but the bottom line is that Georgetown (19-1-4) and Virginia (21-1-2) put forth an effort on the greatest stage in college soccer in a manner that reflected well on their institutions, college soccer, and the individual participants.

You have to go back to the 2012 College Cup semifinal in which Georgetown advanced past Maryland in a penalty kick shootout after the contest was tied at 4-4 after 110 minutes of play to find a game in the Final Four that was as fast paced and exciting as this one.

Seeding accuracy

The results on the field of play pretty much affirmed the seeding of the tournament selection committee. Only number twelve seed Saint Mary’s, number fourteen seed UC Davis and number fifteen seed Penn State were one and done in the tournament. Seven of the eight teams in the Elite Eight were top eight seeded teams and the number one, three and four seeds advanced to the Final Four along with number seven seed Stanford.

Penalty kick shootouts

In the one and done environment of the College Cup it seems at times that a lot of contests end up requiring a penalty kick shootout to determine who advances. That was not the case this year with only four of the games in the tournament going to a penalty kick shootout. Stanford vs. Seattle and Wright State vs. Michigan  were determined by a pk shootout in the second round, Stanford and Clemson in the Elite Eight, and Georgetown and Virginia in the national championship match.

West Coast vs. East Coast

In the west coast vs. east coast debate the teams on the west coast made their presence known in the tournament with Stanford, Washington and UC Santa Barbara playing their way into the Elite Eight and Stanford earning a spot in the College Cup (Final Four).  Stanford had wins over Seattle, Virginia Tech and Clemson. Washington topped Boston College and Marshall. UC Santa Barbara defeated California, Saint Mary’s and Indiana.

An unseeded team always makes an unexpected run in the NCAA Tournament.

In 2017 Fordham advanced to the Elite Eight via wins over St. Francis Brooklyn, number eleven seed Virginia and number six seed Duke.  In 2018 unseeded Akron and Michigan State advanced to the College Cup.  This year unseeded UC Santa Barbara rebounded from a loss in the Big West Tournament final to make a run in the NCAA Tournament to the Elite Eight. The Gauchos topped California 3-1, number twelve seed Saint Mary’s College 4-0 and Big Ten Champion and number five seed Indiana 1-0 before falling to Wake Forest 1-0 in the Elite Eight.  The Gauchos are back.

Playing at home is always considered an advantage.

Seeding in the NCAA Tournament is valued because the higher seeded team hosts games in the NCAA Tournament.  In the “more information that you might want to know” category – playing at home seems to be a greater advantage as the tournament progresses. 

Five of the teams that hosted one of the sixteen first round matches lost. Campbell defeated James Madison 2-0, Coastal Carolina defeated N.C. State 3-2, Wright State topped Notre Dame 3-2, West Virginia topped Butler 5-1 and Seattle defeated LMU 3-1.

In the second round thirteen of the sixteen seeds that hosted won and three lost.

In the Sweet Sixteen only one of the eight teams that hosted lost and in the Elite Eight only one of the four teams that hosted lost.

Atlantic Coast Conference

The Atlantic Coast Conference had ten teams in the forty-eight team NCAA Tournament Field. Eight of the ten teams won at least one game. Five ACC teams advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, three to the Elite Eight and two to the Final Four.

How accurate a measure is the RPI? 

Number one (RPI) Virginia advanced to the national championship contest, number two Georgetown won the national championship, number three SMU advanced to the Elite Eight, number four Clemson advanced to the Elite Eight, number five Wake Forest advanced to the College Cup, number six UCF advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, number seven Virginia Tech advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, number eight Washington advanced to the Elite Eight, number nine St. John’s advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, number ten Stanford advanced to the College Cup.

Biggest Surprises

Wright State’s 1-0 win over Notre Dame. West Virginia’s 5-1 win over Butler. Coastal Carolina’s 3-2 win over NC State, UC Santa Barbara’s 4-0 woodshedding of Saint Mary’s, UC Santa Barbara’s 1-0 win over Indiana, Georgetown’s 5-1 thumping of Louisville.

What a Difference A Year Makes 

Clemson – The Tigers rebounded from a 7-9-1 2018 season to a stellar 18-2-2 season in which they were awarded the number two seed in the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Elite Eight.

UC Santa Barbara - The Gauchos improved from 10-6-2 season in 2018 and a three-year absence from the NCAA Tournament to a 15-5-4 record in 2019 in which they earned an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Elite Eight.

Five of the teams that were in the Sweet Sixteen in 2018 (Akron, Michigan State, Lipscomb, Duke and Air Force) including two of the teams that advanced to the College Cup (Akron and Michigan State) were not in the NCAA Tournament Field in 2019.


All three of SMU’s and Clemson contests in the NCAA Tourney went into overtime.

The Mustangs edged Coastal Carolina 1-0 in the 108th minute of play. They topped UCF 2-1 eighteen seconds into overtime and lost to Virginia 3-2 with Joe Bell converting the game-winner for the Cavaliers in the ninety-fifth minute of play.

The Tigers defeated Charlotte 2-1 with Grayson Berber providing the game-winner in the ninety-fourth minute and they advanced past Providence 2-1 when Robbie Robinson converted a penalty kick in the 105th minute of play.  Stanford advanced past Clemson 5-4 in a penalty kick shootout after the contest was tied 1-1 at the end of 110 minutes of play.

Hoyas Power

Georgetown scored a total of seventeen goals in five NCAA Tournament contests while allowing five. The Hoyas set a new program record for wins in a season with a 20-1-2 record that included a seventeen-game unbeaten streak.

Alternating Netminders

Its not often that a team is able to successfully split time between two goalkeepers and remain organized on the defensive side of the ball. Georgetown was the exception this year with sophomore Giannis Nikopolidis and freshman Tomas Romero alternating contests in goal.  Both started a total of twelve games. Nikopolidis allowed a total of six goals with a goals against average of 0.49. Romero allowed a total of eight goals with a goals against average of 0.64. They continued to rotate games in the NCAA Tournament with Romaro in goal in the contests with Pitt, Washington and Virginia and Nikopolidis in goal in the contests with Louisville and Stanford.  

Upward Movement In The Polls

Based on their run to the Elite Eight UC Santa Barbara moved from the number twenty-two spot to the number eight spot in both the College Soccer News and the United Soccer Coaches polls. Virginia Tech, Providence and Louisville who advanced to the Sweet Sixteen also rocketed upward.

Key Goals – There Were Many But Several Standout

Sophomore forward Grayson Barber's golden goal three minutes into overtime to give Clemson a 2-1 win over Charlotte in the second round of play.

Senior forward Will Bayham’s game-winning blast into the upper right corner of the goal in the 102nd minute of play to give UC Santa Barbara a 1-0 win over Indiana in Bloomington in the Sweet Sixteen.

Senior back Alistair Johnston’s move to create the space he needed to send a shot into the right corner of the frame in the forty-fourth minute that gave Wake Forest the edge they needed to secure a 1-0 win over UC Santa Barbara in the Elite Eight.  

Junior midfielder Jacob Montes goal out of a free kick from the top of the box in the seventy-second minute of play in the Elite Eight that gave Georgetown new life after trailing Washington by a goal for most of the contest.

Sophomore forward Daryl Dike’s goal into the side net in the nineteenth minute of play after running onto a long pass from freshman back Andreas Ueland that gave Virginia an early 1-0 advantage over Wake Forest and switched the momentum from the Deacon Deacons to the Cavaliers.

Sophomore midfielder Zach Riviere’s blast into the back of the frame from a few yards outside the center of the box in the fourth minute of play that gave Georgetown an early 1-0 lead over Stanford on a heavy rain-soaked field in the semifinals of the College Cup. The goal got Georgetown off to a great start and caused Stanford to have to chase the game.

Junior midfielder Paul Rothrock’s goal from close range in the sixteenth minute of play for Georgetown in the Championship Contest that evened the match with Virginia and kept Georgetown from having to chase the game after the Cavaliers had taken an early 1-0 lead with a goal from Joe Bell in the tenth minute of play.

Virginia sophomore forward Daryl Dike’s placement of the rebound of his own shot into the back of the frame with a little over nine minutes remaining in regulation to erase Georgetown’s 3-2 advantage and subsequently send the contest into overtime.

Kudos to the Folks at Cary

The conditions were less than ideal in the semifinals of the College Cup on Friday night due to the duration of the steady rainfall that resulted in standing water on places on the field. Nonetheless the grounds crew did a yeoman’s job of working to keep the field playable under the conditions.

Georgetown and Virginia Advance To Face Each Other Sunday With The National Championship On The Line

Georgetown topped Stanford 2-0 behind a solid team effort on both sides of the ball. Virginia advances past Wake Forest 2-1 behind two goals from sophomore forward Daryl Dike. They will face each other on Sunday at six in what shapes up to be a classic.   

Cary, North Carolina

Georgetown defeated Stanford 2-0 Friday night to advance to the national championship game with a convincing 2-0 win over Stanford on a cold and steadily raining night that resulted in standing water on portions of the field. . 

The Hoyas jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute of play when sophomore midfielder Sean Zawadski drove a shot into the back of the frame from several feet outside the center of the top of the box.  Zawadski aggressively pushed forward into space and decisively one timed a picture perfect shot into the left side of the goal just outside of the reach of Stanford netminder Andrew Thomas. 

Neither team wanted to have to chase the contest and the conditions contributed to making that even more difficult to do. Stanford regrouped and looked to be getting into a rhythm midway through the first half but Georgetown continued to get numbers behind the ball and was able to keep the Cardinal off the scoreboard.  The teams went into intermission with Georgetown holding a 1-0 advantage. 

The outcome remained in doubt until junior midfielder Foster McCune made the run he needed to make to be in position to drive a header into the left side of the goal at close range to give Georgetown a two goal advantage in the sixty-seventh minute. The goal was set up by a nice move at speed down the right side of the field and a slightly defected cross into the middle from Zawadski that found its way past three Cardinal defenders. McCune celebrated his goal with an impressive belly slide into the far corner of the field that was facilitated by the water on the field.

This one came down to the fact that Georgetown was able to get into a rhythm early on and stayed true to the style of play and the execution on both sides of the ball that have served them so well all year.  It was another team win for the Hoyas with nineteen players participating in a seamless effort in which they never seemed to be out of sync. Senior forward Achara was among those who entered the contest and added an additional dimension that accelerated Georgetown's attack. 

The Hoyas did a really good job of maintaining possession, stretching the field of play, and putting together the combinations they needed to secure the win.  The backline of Dylan Nealis, Rio Hope-Gund, Dylan Nealis and Sean O'Hearn also put in a very disciplined and organized effort that limited Stanford to only two shots and kept the Cardinal from putting together the combinations that they needed to mount a more effective attack up-top.   

Giannis Nikopolidis had one save in goal for Georgetown while Andrew Thomas had two saves between the pipes for Stanford.

Georgetown improves to 19-3-1 and matches the win total of the 2012 team that made program history by advancing to the national championship contest where they were edged 1-0 by Indiana.  

Stanford concludes another banner season with a 14-3-5 record and their fourth trip to the College Cup in the last five seasons.

Number three seeded Georgetown will square off with number one seed Virginia on Sunday at six with the winner securing the 2019 National Championship. The contest will be carried live on ESPNU.

Virginia 2 - Wake Forst 1 - The Cavaliers continued their dominance over Wake Forest in post season play Friday night in the second semifinal match of the 2019 College Cup on a very rainy night in North Carolina. It was a total team effort for the Cavaliers but forward Daryl Dike's two goals, goalkeeper Colin Shutler's seven saves, and Joe Bells steady play in the middle third highlighted the win.  

Wake Forest pressed the attack in the early going playing vintage Demon Deacon soccer in which they attacked at speed, did a good job of switching the field of play, and finding seams that they might be able to exploit. It looked like the Demon Deacons might be able to break through in the early going but that was not to prove to be the case.  

The momentum shifted to Virginia in the nineteenth minute when a disciplined Virginia team that has been dangerous all year at building their attack from the back and getting their players in space behind defenders did so once again when Dike ran onto a beautiful long ball played in by freshman defender Andreas Ueland.  Dike then drove a shot into the far side netting from inside the right side of the box at a very difficult angle with little margin for error. The goal ignited the Cavaliers and the Virginia faithful on hand at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina and forced Wake Forest to have to play catchup against a team that is tenacious on the defensive side of the ball. 

What proved to be the game winning goal came a little over three minutes later when sophomore midfielder Daniel Steedman served in a corner kick that Dike skillfully flicked into the far side netting to give the Cavaliers a 2-0 advantage.

The teams went into intermission with Virginia holding a commanding but always somewhat vulnerable 2-0 lead.  Wake Forest got new life when senior midfielder Bruno Lapa converted a penalty kick with eleven minutes remaining in the contest. The Deacons attacked but were unable to break the code on a very composed and solid Virginia defense that was anchored by backs Henry Kessler, Andreas Ueland, Robin Afamefuna, Bret Halsey, and Spencer Patton and netminder Colin Shutler.

Wake Forest had an eleven to seven advantage in shots and an eight to two advantage in shots on goal but Virginia as they have all year did a great job of taking advantage of the opportunities that came their way and the fact that they are 16-0-0 when leading at halftime and 19-0-1 when scoring first speaks for itself.

Virginia improves to 21-1-1 and advances to face Georgetown on Sunday at six with the national championship on the line.

Wake Forest completes another stellar season with a 16-5-2 record.  

The Intangibles That Will Likely Impact The Outcome Of The 2019 College Cup

There are no Cindarellas in the College Cup (Final Four) this year. Virginia, Georgetown and Wake Forest were all awarded a top four seed. Stanford is a number seven seed and the national champion three out of the past four years. All were highly ranked throughout the season. The coach of each of the participants does an excellent job of roster management by bringing on board players with the talent and mentality that fits their style of play. All have a culture of excellence that the older players instill in the newcomers. All are talented but it takes more than talent to win a national championship. The intangibles listed below could come into play.  

Senior Leadership – It can make a difference when playing on the biggest stage in college soccer

Virginia – Defender and captain Robin Afamefuna, a four-year starter, is the lone senior in the starting lineup.

Wake Forest – Hermann Trophy semifinalist and All-ACC First Team selection midfielder Bruno Lapa (9g, 3a), two-year starter defender Alistair Johnson (3g, 5a), three year starter midfielder Joey Dezart (1g, 1a), defender Eddie Folds (0g, 1a) and forward Tater Rennhack (0g, 3a) are among the seniors who set the pace for the Demon Deacons.

Georgetown – Two-time Big East Defender of the Year Dylan Nealis (4g, 5a), graduate student forward Ethan Lochner (0g, 1a), forward Achara (6g, 4a), forward Riley Strassner and midfielder JB Fischer (1g, 1a) are among the seniors who are key contributors.

Stanford – Seniors defender Tanner Beason (5g, 1a) and midfielders Jared Gilbey (0g, 6a) and Derek Waldeck (4g, 8a) are four-year starters and pace setters for the Cardinal.  

Freshmen in Key Roles – They now have a year of starting experience under their belts and bring energy to the pitch but this is their first rodeo.

Virginia – Freshmen forward Axel Gunnarsson (2g, 4a) and center back Andreas Ueland (3g, 0a) have performed well in a starting role. 

Wake Forest – Freshmen forward Calvin Harris (6g, 3a) has added creativity and punch to the attack while back Nico Benalcazar (2g, 0a) has been a solid contributor and starter on the defensive side of the ball.

Georgetown – Freshmen defender Daniel Wu has been a starter and solid performer all year. Freshmen Dante Polvara (4g, 2a) has added an additional dimension to the midfield and goalkeeper Tomas Romero has been the starter in goal in eleven games with an impressive 0.44 goals against average.

Stanford - Freshmen forwards Ousseni Bouda (5g, 5a) and Gabe Segal (6g, 0a) have added balance to the offense. Freshman defender Keegan Hughes (3g, 3a) has been a solid starter. Freshmen midfielder Cam Cilley (0g, 1a) and defender Keegan Tingey (0g, 1a) have been key contributors.  

Momentum - When the margin for error is small it is always a plus to have the wind at your back.  

Virginia - The Cavaliers look to be playing their best soccer of the year. They have not lost since being upset at home by Pitt back on October 18. Virginia won the ACC Tournament for the first time since the 2009 season with impressive wins over Syracuse, Wake Forest and Clemson. They advanced to the College Cup with a gut check 3-2 win in overtime over SMU in the Elite Eight.

Wake Forest - The Demon Deacons have their legs back under them after struggling a little down the homestretch. This is a team that has had to deal with several key injuries but has adjusted well and is fully back on track and playing "Wake Forest" soccer.  They will be eager for the opportunity to turn the table on a Virginia team that topped them 1-0 in the semifinals in the ACC Tournament.

Georgetown (18-1-3) - The Hoyas look to be in a groove with larger than expected wins over Pitt 5-0 and Louisville 5-1 followed by a 2-1 come from behind win over Washington in the Elite Eight. They are a confident, focused, and deep team.    

Stanford - (14-2-5) This is Stanford's fourth trip to the College Cup in the past five years so they are no stranger to biggest stage in all of college soccer. The Cardinal got a wake up call when they didn't put in a full ninety minutes of play in their final regular season contest and were upset at home 1-0 by California. Stanford has advanced in two out of their three contests in the NCAA Tournament by prevailing in a penalty kick shootout. Advancing past Clemson on the road in a penalty kick shootout in the Elite Eight was a huge step. This group likely knows better than any of the other teams in the Final Four exactly what they need to do to prevail. That in itself is a momentum and confidence builder in a survive and advance environment. 

Overall Experience - Composure is a plus. Without it things can come apart pretty fast. Experience can be overrated with a lot of younger players entering college now with a ton of competitive play under their belts. Regardless, it can be can be a difference maker.  

All of the four teams in the College Cup have the experience of playing difficult schedules and all have veteran coaches who have taken a team to the College Cup.  

Virginia - This is a relatively young Virginia team with six upperclassmen in the starting lineup. Senior back Robin Afamefuna is a four year starter while junior forward Nathaniel Croft and junior back Joe Bell are three year starters. Junior goalkeeper Colin Shutler, junior back Henry Kessler and junior midfielder Irakoze Donasiyano have two years of starting experinece under their belts.   

Wake Forest - The Deacons entered the year with several gaps to fill on the defensive side of the ball due to graduation. The Deacons annually do a good job of replacing talented players with talented but less experienced players who gain experience as the season progresses. Wake Forest had six underclassmen in the starting lineup at times this year partially by design and partially due to injuries that have required that others step forward. Defenders senior Alistair Johnston and junior Michael DeSields add experience to the backline while seniors Bruno Lapa and Joey Dezart and junior Machop Chol are among verteran midfielders.  

Georgetown - Seven upperclassmen are regularly in the staring lineup. Senior Dylan Nealis and juniors Rio Hope Gund and Sean O'Hearn provide a solid and experienced presence in the back. Ethan Lochner, Achara and Derek Dodson provide experience up top with juniors Jacob Montes and Paul Rothrock adding stability in the midfield. Brian Wiese has done a good job of blending several talented newcomers in with the returning players.  

Stanford - Five upperclassmen are in the starting lineup. Defender Tanner Beason is a four year starter. Senior midfielders Derek Waldeck, Logan Panchot and Jared Gilbey are very experienced four-year starters. Senior forward Derek Waldeck brings three years of starting experience to the table. Four freshmen were in the starting lineup in Standford's Elite Eight contest against Clemson. 

Combinations - They impact possession, rhythm and flow, and the creation of scoring opportunitites. 

Virginia - Joe Bell, the ACC Midfielder of the Year, and sophomore forward Daryl Dike (7g, 8a) are among the Cavaliers who do an excellent job of creating scoring opportuities. Irakoze Donasiyano (4g, 5a) is a consistent linkman. 

Wake Forest - Midfielders Machop Chol, Isaiah Parente and Bruno Lapa are among those who do a great job of putting together passes that create space and scoring opportuities. Back Alistair Johnston has the ability to push forward from the back to create a numbers advantage. 

Georgetown - Jacob Montes, the Big East Midfielder of the Year, and forward Derek Dodson are among those who combine to make good things happen. Senior Dylan Nealis, the Big East Defender of the Year, adds additional punch to the attack out of the back. Midfielder Paul Rothrock (3g, 7a) is a good set up man.  

Stanford - Midfielders Derek Waldeck (4g, 8a), Logan Panchot (0g, 8a),and Jared Gilbey (0g, 6a) work well together to maintain possession and create scoring opporuntities for forwards Charlie Wehan (3g, 2a), Ousseni Bouda (5g, 5a), Zach Ryan (6g, 2a) and Gabe Segal (6g, 0a). Defender Tanner Beason (5g, 1a) adds to the attack from the back and out of set pieces.   

Hunger - A team that is both talented and hungry is the most dangerous team to face.   

Virginia - Last year the tenth seeded Cavaliers were topped 1-0 in the third round by Notre Dame. In 2017 the eleven seeded Cavaliers were upset by Fordham 1-0 in the second round. The 2019 team has their sights set on nothing less than a national championship.   

Wake Forest - Last year the number one seeded Demon Deacons were one and done in the NCAA Tournament when they were upset at home 1-0 by Akron. The 2019 team has played through adversity which has fueled this team. Getting to the College Cup was a goal but not their end goal. 

Georgetown - The Hoyas believe they can win it all this year and will be disappointed with anything less than a national title. Georgetown was a College Cup caliber team last year and were frustrated when they were upset at home in the third round by MIchigan State 1-0. This is a team that is going to leave it all on the field this year.   

Stanford - Stanford fell one game short of a fourth straight trip to the College Cup last year when they were upset at home by Akron 3-2 in the Elite Eight. The Cardinal have had a couple close calls along the way but have played their way back into the College Cup for the fourth time in the past five seasons. You can bet the farm that Stanford is focused on nothing less than another national championship.  

The play between the pipes. No position has a greater impact on the outcome of the College Cup than the goalkeeper. 

Virginia - Redshirt junior Colin Shutler has been the starter for two seasons. He is 6'1" and leads the nation with a 0.40 goals against average. He has recorded fifteen shutouts and anchored a defense that has allowed a total of only nine goals. Shutler is an All-South Region First Team selection and a First-Team ACC honoree. 

Wake Forest - Redshirt sophomore Andrew Pannenberg. This is his first season in a starting role. He has a 0.66 goals against average and has recorded nine shutouts. He is 6' 3" and anchors a Demon Deacon defense that has allowed a total of fifteen goals. 

Georgetown - Sophomore Giannis Nikopolidis and freshman Tomas Romero split time in goal.

Nikopolidis is 6' 2" and was the starter in 2018. He has started eleven contests in 2019 and has a 0.53 goals against average with four shutouts. He was named the 2019 Big East Co-Goalkeeper of the Year and an All-Big East First Team selection. A total of six goals have been scored when he was between the pipes.

Romero is 6'1" and has started eleven contests this year with a 0.44 goals against average and seven shutouts. A total of five goals have been scored while he was in goal. 

Stanford - Redshirt sophomore Andrew Thomas. He is 6'2" and has been the starter in goal for two seasons. He has a 0.66 goals against average this year and has posted eight shutouts. Thomas is an All-Far West Region First Team selection and an All-a Pac-12 First Team honoree. He anchors a defense that has allowed a total of fourteen goals. 

The Grit Factor  

Virginia - The Cavaliers are talented and tough. Look no further than their come from behind win over Clemson in the ACC Tournament for proof of the mettle of this team.

Wake Forest - The Demon Deacons could have folded when they had to deal with lineup changes due to injury. Instead it has been "next man up" for this team on several occassions. There is no quit in this bunch.

Georgetown - This is a group that has been taking care of business on both sides of the ball all year. The mettle of this team was demonstrated in their come from behind win over Providence in regular season play and their come from behind win over Washington in the Elite Eight. This team has demonstrated the ability to play through difficulty and find a way to prevail.

Stanford - The Cardinal are a nasty matchup for anyone. The return of Tanner Beason from injury added to the tenacity of this team but there are multiple reasons why Stanford is a tough team to beat.