The first round of the NCAA Tournament has reached its conclusion, with 16 teams punching their tickets to the second round. The winners of Thursday’s first round matches will head on the road to face one of the top 16 seeds, so let’s take a look at what went down on the tournament’s opening day. By Brian Ludden
(Home teams are listed first)
San Diego 1-1 Cal Baptist [2-3 PKs]
In an all-California showdown, WCC champion San Diego played host to WAC champion Cal Baptist. Cesar Bahena scored in the 16th minute, guiding his shot through the keeper’s legs to give San Diego a 1-0 lead. It was a short-lived lead, however, as Luis Mueller drew Cal Baptist level in the 21st minute. Neither side was able to hit paydirt again for the remainder of the first half. No goals in the second half either. And no game-winners in extra time. Tied at 1, penalty kicks determined who would advance. San Diego missed their first two spot kicks, while Cal Baptist converted both of their first two. San Diego were able to get back in it after Cal Baptist hit the post with their third shot, and both sides converted their fourth shot. With Cal Baptist holding a 3-2 advantage going into the fifth and final round, Cal Baptist keeper Nolan Premack played the role of hero, saving San Diego’s final penalty kick and securing the victory for his side. Up next for Cal Baptist Is a cross-country voyage to take on the top overall seed, Marshall.
Missouri State 1-0 Omaha
The lone goal in Springfield, Missouri on Thursday was from Missouri State’s Mattia Petricca, as he directed a header past Omaha keeper Nathanael Sallah. It was Petricca’s first goal of the season. Omaha was actually outshoot Missouri State, but were unable to find any success. A fine save from Harry Townsend in which he dove to his left to keep out a shot from six yards away in the 80th minute helped preserve the clean sheet and win. Now in the second round for the third time in program history, Missouri State will head west to take on Stanford.
Charlotte 1-0 High Point
Fresh off an American Athletic Conference title, Charlotte ensured that their season continued for at least a few more days with a 1-0 win over in-state opposition, High Point. A 37th-minute goal from Filip Jauk was enough to give Charlotte the win. A lofted ball into the box from Lasse Laursen found the head of Jauk, who put it past the oncoming goalkeeper and into the empty net. On the other end, Leonard Stritter kept his sixth clean sheet of the season. Charlotte will now make the trip to Clemson for a second round meeting.
Syracuse 3-1 Boston University
There was undoubtedly a bit of nervousness and tension on the Syracuse bench and throughout the stands for about 20 minutes on Thursday evening. Despite falling behind early on, the defending champions found their stride with three goals in a 10 minute span to take control of the match. Boston University’s Eitan Rosen scored in the third minute, giving the Terriers a bit of hope. However, Nicholas Kaloukian’s brace on either side of a Josh Belluz headed goal gave Syracuse a 3-1 lead heading into halftime, a scoreline that remained throughout the second 45. At this point in the season it doesn’t matter how you win, as long as you win. Ian McIntyre’s men will face New Hampshire on Sunday.
Louisville 4-3 Dayton
It was an exhilarating, thrilling, back-and-forth, end-to-end, can’t-look-away type of game between Louisville and Dayton at Dr. Mark & Cindy Lynn Stadium (no, not the same one that will host the College Cup in a few weeks). After six first-half goals saw the two sides head into the break knotted at three, a goal from Brandon Mcmanus in the 64th minute gave the hometown Cardinals a 4-3 win. In the first half, Louisville took leads of 1-0 and 2-1 only to concede an equalizer within minutes of taking the lead each time. The fifth of five goals in an 8 minute span, Dayton’s Kenji Mboma Dem gave the Flyers a 3-2 lead in the 20th minute, before Louisville’s Bryce Lebel countered with an equalizer of his own in the 35th. The teams went into the locker room tied at three, before Mcmanus’ goal gave Louisville the win. Up next for Louisville is a trip to #5 West Virginia.
Vermont 3-1 Rider
Seventeen shots translated to three goals for the Vermont Catamounts, as they dispatched MAAC champions Rider en route to a 3-1 first round triumph. Yaniv Bazini started the scoring for Vermont in the 24th minute, before America East Rookie of the Year Nick Lockermann doubled Vermont’s advantage in the 29th minute. A close-range header from Babacar Diene in the 81st minute gave Rider hope for a comeback, but Bazini’s second goal of the game in the 87th minute removed any doubt and secured the win for Vermont. The Catamounts will enjoy a bit of warmer weather on Sunday, as they’ll travel down to Orlando to face #12 UCF
Loyola Marymount 4-2 UC Irvine
It was a game of runs in Los Angeles late Thursday night, with a Golden State meeting between Loyola Marymount and UC Irvine on display. Ryan Kingsford opened the scoring for Loyola Marymount in the 39th minute after his penalty was saved before turning in the rebound. Loyola Marymount held a 1-0 lead at halftime, and doubled their lead in the 59th minute thanks to a goal from Braden Fidelak. UC Irvine responded, however, with goals from Mario Anaya and Rafael Espinoza to level the match at 2 with less than 15 minutes to play. But there was still more drama to unfold, as Tyger Smalls’ free kick in the 89th minute took a deflection and found the back of the net. Smalls sealed the win for Loyola Marymount in the 90th minute. Loyola Marymount will now make the short journey to face UCLA on Sunday.
Pittsburgh 2-3 James Madison
It was a matchup between two bubble teams, with the conversation throughout the week being about whether or not these two teams deserved to be in the tournament. Despite the criticism from some, the two sides delivered one of the round’s most entertaining games from an attacking perspective. Alex Krakowiak gave James Madison the lead in the 11th minute, before Michael Sullivan scored for Pitt in the 16th minute to tie it at one. James Madison retook the lead through Rodrigo Robles just minutes after Pitt’s equalizer, only for the home side to tie things up again in the 22nd minute. The game remained level at two for the rest of the first half and 11 minutes of the second, before Robles scored his second of the match to give James Madison a 3-2 lead. The Dukes did not let this lead slip, and will now face Georgetown in the second round.
North Carolina’s quadrant
Memphis 2-1 SIUE
Two first-half goals was sufficient for the Memphis Tigers, as they advanced past previously-unbeaten SIUE in first round action on Thursday night. Lineker Rodrigues dos Santos scored in the 9th minute, before adding to his tally in the 27th minute with a clever turn and finish. A goal from SIUE’s Pavel Dashin in the 61st minute halved the deficit with nearly a half hour left to play. However, the Cougars were sent down to 10 men shortly after, as keeper Sam Gomez was deservedly shown a straight red card in the 64th minute after a reckless challenge on dos Santos. Memphis, up a man for the final 26 minutes, held on for the 2-1 win. The Tigers will head to Chapel Hill and face the #3 overall seed, North Carolina.
Bryant 0-1 Yale
In one of the bigger surprises from the first day of the NCAA Tournament, Ivy League champions Yale took down the best defensive team in the nation, Bryant. We mentioned Bryant’s strong defensive record in the NCAA Tournament predictions article, and they held strong for almost 90 minutes. Unfortunately, almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. So what did it take for Yale to break through? Just a goal from over 50 yards out. Yale’s Max Rogers scored potentially the goal of the tournament, catching Bryant keeper Antreas Hadjigavriel off his line with an unbelievable strike from near midfield in the 89th minute. Yale will face Hofstra in the second round.
Oregon State 2-1 Seattle [after extra time]
The first game of this year’s tournament to go to extra time was in Corvallis as Oregon State and Seattle needed an extra 20 minutes to separate themselves. Enzo Newman’s creative dribbling in the box allowed for a cross to Dante Williams, whose goal in the 31st minute gave Oregon State the lead. Seattle was only able to muster up 3 shots throughout the 110 minutes, but one of those shots from Mo Mohamed found its way through and beat Oregon State keeper Luis Castillo, leveling proceedings at one. The score remained 1-1 after 90 minutes, but it didn’t take long for Oregon State to find the winner in extra time: Fran Cortijo’s goal in the 92nd minute was enough for Oregon State, as they held on for the 2-1 win. Next up for the Beavers is a rematch of last year’s second round matchup, in which Oregon State lost to Portland 2-0.
Denver 2-1 Long Island
It took nearly 80 minutes for the home favorites to find a goal, but in the end it was a come-from-behind victory for Denver, who fell behind in the 67th minute after a Emil Jaaskelainen goal gave Long Island a 1-0 lead. The lead lasted for 13 minutes, as Bryce Willoughby’s header found the back of the net to level things at 1. Less than three minutes later, the Pioneers struck again, as freshman forward Tyler Schommer scored his first collegiate goal to give Denver the advantage. Denver will now head down to Dallas for a matchup vs. 6-seeded SMU.
Notre Dame’s quadrant
FIU 1-0 Mercer
In just the second all-time meeting between the two sides, FIU emerged victorious in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, narrowly defeating the SoCon champions, Mercer. Simon Afrifa scored the match’s lone goal in the 21st minute which proved to be decisive. Mercer was able to create a few good chances in the second half, but the Bears were unable to find an equalizer. Next up for FIU is a second-round match vs. Virginia.
Indiana 2-1 Lipscomb
The Big Ten champions continued their streak of one-goal wins, as Indiana got past ASUN champions Lipscomb. Thursday’s first-round matchup was the first ever meeting between the two sides, and it was the Hoosiers who prevailed. Collins Oduro opened the scoring in the 32nd minute, giving Indiana a 1-0 halftime lead. Maouloune Goumballe then increased Indiana’s lead in the 74th minute, as he was able to beat his man, drive into the box, and fire a tight-angle shot past Lipscomb goalkeeper Harrison Gough. However, it wasn’t completely smooth sailing for Indiana, as Lipscomb was able to find a goal of their own in the 84th minute. Tyrese Spicer’s shot flew in over the head of Indiana keeper JT Harms, giving Lipscomb a lifeline with five minutes to play. Unfortunately for the Bisons, they were unable to find a dramatic equalizer. Indiana survives and advances, and will play Wake Forest in Winston-Salem on Sunday.
Western Michigan 3-0 Green Bay
In the tournament’s opening match, it was a comfortable victory for the Missouri Valley Conference champions. Following two goals in the MVC final, Western Michigan talisman Charlie Sharp went one better on Thursday afternoon, scoring a hat-trick to guide his side past Green Bay. After a first-half free kick gave his side the lead at halftime, Sharp scored twice in the second 45, taking advantage of a Green Bay turnover in the 71st minute to round off his impressive performance. Green Bay was able to outshoot Western Michigan (14-13), but to no avail, as Ethan Brandt kept his ninth clean sheet of the season. Next up for Western Michigan is a meeting with Duke.
Xavier 0-2 Kentucky
Kentucky got into the tournament thanks in large part to their late season push and wins over Marshall and West Virginia. Xavier, on the other hand, got in the tournament in the most straightforward way: win your conference. In a meeting between two teams who may not have expected to be here a month ago, it was the Wildcats who clawed their way past the Musketeers. Ben Damge scored on either side of halftime to give Kentucky the victory. The first one came in the 26th minute, assisted by a Josh Gordon through ball. Damge scored his second in the 68th minute, firing a low right-footed strike past Xavier keeper Jonny Mennell. Casper Mols made two saves and kept his 7th clean sheet of the season. Next up for Kentucky is #2 Notre Dame.
Picture from California Baptist Athletics
Brian Ludden is a contributing writer for College Soccer News.