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Men’s College Soccer – The Road To The College Cup. Three Teams Advanced To The Elite Eight On Saturday.

Five More Teams Will Punch Their Ticket To The Elite Eight On Sunday

West Virginia 2 – Vermont 1 – Number five seed West Virginia advanced to face Vermont by slipping past Louisville 1-0. Unseeded Vermont secured a spot in the third round by defeating Rider 3-1 and upsetting UCF 3-2 in overtime in Orlando.

Senior forward Yutaro Tsukada drew first blood for West Virginia when he scored in the fourth minute of the match after creating a turnover that deflected to forward Marcus Caldeira who alertly played a through ball to Tsukada who utilized his quickness and touch on the ball to create the space he needed to place a shot into the net. The goal was Tsukada’s 11th this season.

Vermont continued to push and tied the match in the 32nd minute when senior midfielder Carter Johnson made a little juke move off the dribble to create the slight angle he required to net the equalizer. Johnson’s goal was preceded by a crisp give-and-go with senior midfielder Daniel Pacella.

Mountaineer junior center back Max Broughton then scored the game-winner for West Virginia in the 82nd minute when he skied above everyone else to convert a header out of a corner kick served in by junior defender Frederik Jorgensen to conclude the scoring for the evening. The goal was Broughton’s second on the season and Jorgensen’s fourth assist.

Senior Jackson Lee had a stellar season high seven saves between the pipes for West Virginia. Redshirt senior Owen Jack had one save in goal for Vermont.

This one could have gone either way but at the end of the day West Virginia was able to come up with the big plays needed to secure the win and a spot in the Elite Eight. The Mountaineers improve to 16-2-4 and advance to host Loyola Marymount University out of the West Coast Conference on Saturday.

Vermont out of the America East Conference closes out another productive season under head coach Rob Dow with a 13-6-2 overall record.  

Loyola Marymount 1 – James Madison 0 – Unseeded LMU advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in program history by defeating UC Irvine 4-2 and UCLA 1-0. James Madison played their way into the third round by beating Pittsburgh 3-2 and Georgetown 1-0.

Soccer is a game of opportunity. At the end of the day the difference between a win and a loss is often slight, which was the case in this one. James Madison prevailed 15 to 10 in shots and 8 to 5 in shots on goal, but Loyola Marymount was able to finish one of their goal scoring opportunities and that combined with a bend but don’t break Lion defense proved to be the difference.

LMU graduate student forward Ryan Kingsford scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in the 67th minute of play when he placed a shot into the back of the frame that was set up by a combination of passes between forwards Jovan Prado and Tyler Smalls and a well-timed run by Kingsford that put him in the right spot at the right time to score.

JMU out of the Sun Belt Conference continued to attack but they were unable to produce the equalizer.

Senior goalkeeper Massimo Oedekoven Pomponi had an eight save evening in goal for LMU to secure the Lions eighth shutout of the year. Sophomore Sebastian Conlon had a solid four save contest between the pipes for James Madison.

A very competitive James Madison team under head coach Paul Zazenski concludes the season with a 10-5-5 overall record.

Loyola Marymount will face another team out of the Sun Belt Conference in their first ever berth in the Elite Eight when they travel to Morganton to take on West Virginia in the Elite Eight.  

Oregon State 7 – SMU 1 – There are games in which the outcome goes as expected, there are games in which there are surprises, and there are games in which the outcome more or less defies explanation. Count this one in the last category. It is not that Oregon State won the game but the fact that they put seven in the back of the net against SMU in Dallas.

Let’s expand a bit on that. SMU previously had allowed a total of only 13 goals and had posted nine shutouts. This same SMU team was ranked as the number two team in the last United Soccer Coaches poll and the number five team in the College Soccer News regular season ending poll, they had an RPI of four, won the AAC regular season title with a 7-0-1 mark in conference play, and their lineup included Mads Westergren, the AAC Defensive Player of the Year, and Cole Johnson, the AAC Goalkeeper of the Year. Enough said.

Number six seed SMU advanced to face Oregon State in the Sweet Sixteen by topping Denver 2-1. Unseeded Oregon State advanced past Seattle 2-1 and number 11 seed Portland 3-0 to face SMU.

The Mustangs got on the board first when freshman midfielder Niv Berkovitz returned a rebound into the net with an assist from Jelldrik Dallmann in the seventh minute of the game. Oregon State’s Arnam Farnos contributed the equalizer for the Beavers when he scored in the 32nd minute of the match. Midfielder Dante Williams then scored what proved to be the game-winner for Oregon State in the closing minutes of the first half.

The teams went into intermission with Oregon State up 2-1 and SMU still very much in contention. Oregon State then took over the contest in the second stanza with Vicento Castro, Williams, and Ellis Spikner contributing a goal and Logan Farrington scoring twice. The seven goal output was Oregon State’s highest scoring contest since the 2014 season.

SMU closes out an otherwise outstanding year with a 14-3-2 record.

Oregon State improves to 10-5-5 and advances to the Elite Eight for the second time in program history with the first coming in 2021.

Pictures from West Virginia, Loyola Marymount and Oregon State Athletics

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