The third round of the NCAA Tournament is set, with 16 teams advancing to the second weekend after wins on Sunday. The second round saw some top seeds take care of business and advance to the second round, but some title hopefuls saw their tournaments come to an early end. Let’s break down each game and see how every team did in the second round. By Brian Ludden
(Home teams are listed first)
Marshall 3-0 Cal Baptist
It was a fairly comfortable win for the top overall seed, as Marshall got past WAC champions Cal Baptist. The Thundering Herd held Cal Baptist to just a single shot on goal, while Marshall had seven of their own. Scoring wise, it was three different Marshall players on the scoresheet, with Matthew Bell scoring his team-best 10th goal of the season in the 24th minute. It was only a 1-0 score at halftime, and remained that way for almost a half hour into the second half, before Alexander Adjetey scored in the 75th minute. Pablo Simon put the cherry on top to make it 3-0 ten minutes later in the 84th minute. However despite the 3-0 scoreline, Marshall head coach Chris Grassie had different thoughts. “I thought we weren’t at our best today,” Grassie stated. “We were a little sloppy with some of the things we didn’t recognize.” Grassie will be hoping that Marshall will put in an even better performance in the third round with a much bigger test at home vs. Stanford.
Stanford 3-1 Missouri State
They trailed early on, but in the end 16 seed Stanford won back-to-back games for the first time since early September. After defeating Omaha in the first round, Missouri State made the trip to California for a matchup with three-time NCAA champions, Stanford. The Bears took an early lead, with Jesus Barea scoring in the 8th minute. Barea placed his shot from the top of the box into the bottom left corner, leaving Stanford keeper Rowan Schnebly frozen. Stanford responded quickly though, as less than ten minutes later a direct free kick from Zach Bohane found the top corner, leveling the match at 1. Shane de Flores gave Stanford the lead in the 30th minute, heading home a Palmer Bank cross. Taking a 2-1 lead into halftime, Stanford got a third thanks to Jackson Kiil in the 64th minute. Stanford now faces the tough task of heading across the country and taking on the #1 overall seed, Marshall.
Clemson 3-0 Charlotte
In a matchup featuring a team from each of the Carolinas, it was the team from South Carolina who scored a trio of goals to advance to the Sweet 16. The 2021 champions, Clemson, continued their hot streak, extending their unbeaten run to ten games. Brandon Parish opened the scoring in the 35th minute, latching onto a ball at the back post to give Clemson a 1-0 halftime lead. Ousmane Sylla scored in his third straight game, after a clever flick from Alex Meinhard put Sylla in behind. Sylla coolly passed the ball into the bottom corner, making it 2-0 in the 48th minute. Charlotte had a chance to at least cut the deficit in half in the 65th minute after Clemson keeper Joseph Andema missed a clearance, but Logan Frost sent his ensuing shot well wide. Arthur Duquenne capped off the win for Clemson with an 88th-minute goal. The Tigers will head up north for a third round matchup with New Hampshire.
New Hampshire 3-0 Syracuse
There will be a new team ascending to the top of the college soccer landscape, as defending champions Syracuse were dispatched by New Hampshire. After falling to Bryant in the America East final, New Hampshire responded with a commanding 3-0 win over the ACC side. Taig Healy got the scoring started early for New Hampshire, scoring in the sixth minute. At the other end of the first half, Dylan Maxon doubled New Hampshire’s lead in the 37th minute with his first collegiate goal. After taking a 2-0 lead into halftime, Eli Goldman put the game out of reach with his goal in the 61st minute. New Hampshire goalkeeper Joseba Incera kept a clean sheet for the Wildcats, only having to make one save in the process. New Hampshire will host Clemson in the third round.
West Virginia 1-0 Louisville
It took 71 minutes, but in the end it was the five-seeded West Virginia Mountaineers who advanced past Louisville and into the round of 16. West Virginia out shot Louisville 17-7, but the two sides had the same amount of shots on target (four). West Virginia nearly found the back of the net in the 22nd minute, but Marcus Caldeira was denied thanks to a fine save from Louisville’s Alex Svetanoff. The one shot that did result in a goal came from Yutaro Tsukada in the 72nd minute. Tsukada continued his fine form, as his goal vs. Louisville gave him five goals in West Virginia’s last five matches. Tsukada will look to continue his hot stretch in the third round, as West Virginia will host Vermont.
UCF 2-3 [aet] Vermont
A back-and-forth, five-goal thriller in Orlando gave us another upset, as Vermont took down #12 seed UCF after extra time. UCF came into the game following an upset loss to South Carolina in the Sun Belt Tournament, but the Knights made their presence known quickly. Saku Heiskanen scored after just 66 seconds, giving UCF a very early lead. A poor pass from UCF while attempting to play out of the back gave Vermont a golden opportunity to equalize, which they took advantage of with Niels Hartman scoring in the 17th minute. In the second half, Yaniv Bazini gave Vermont the lead, sneaking his free kick inside the near post in the 55th minute. This time it was UCF who had to chase a tying goal, which they got in the 77th minute. A pass from Lucca Dourado rolled through the box, finding Clarence Awoudor who calmly placed his shot through the legs of Vermont keeper Owen Jack. Tied at 2, extra time was needed to separate the two teams. In the second half of the extra period, Carter Johnson’s header into an empty net gave Vermont a 3-2 lead in the 105th minute. UCF were unable to score in the final five minutes, and Vermont ended up victorious. The Catamounts will face another seeded Sun Belt opponent in the third round, this time #5 West Virginia.
UCLA 0-1 Loyola Marymount
Loyola Marymount’s nickname is the Lions, but it was a Tyger who gave them the upset win over UCLA. In an all-Los Angeles affair, Tyger Smalls scored the only goal of the game, as he capitalized on a misplayed header from the UCLA backline in the 30th minute. Despite outshooting Loyola Marymount by a large margin (24-7), none of those resulted in a goal for the Bruins. Loyola Marymount goalkeeper Massimo Oedekoven Pomponi equaled his season-high seven saves, and kept his seventh clean sheet. Overall, it was a postseason to forget across the UCLA campus, as both the men’s and women’s teams have now fallen to in-state opposition in their opening matches. Only the Loyola Marymount side, the Lions keep dancing. Next up is a third round match vs. James Madison.
Georgetown 0-1 James Madison
In one of the biggest upsets so far, James Madison took down the #4 overall seed, Georgetown. James Madison was one of the last teams into the field, drawing some criticism across social media and in the college soccer landscape. However, the Dukes have done more than enough to prove that they deserve to be here. James Madison followed up their first round win over Pittsburgh with an even better victory over the 2019 National Champions, Georgetown. Davide Materazzi scored the match’s lone goal, converting a penalty kick in the 39th minute. With only two shots on target, Georgetown were unable to find a goal. For the Hoyas, it’s a second exit at this stage in the tournament in as many years. Meanwhile, James Madison advances to the third round to face Loyola Marymount.
North Carolina Region
North Carolina 2-0 Memphis
A goal on both sides of halftime gave #3 overall seed North Carolina a 2-0 win in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Despite some people thinking that the Tar Heels undeservedly got the 3 seed, North Carolina did what they had to do on Sunday afternoon and advanced to the third round. Marin Vician’s flicked header in the 8th minute gave North Carolina the lead, which they took to halftime. Shortly after the break, Vician scored his second of the match, placing his header past the Memphis goalkeeper who came out off his line. The two goals were enough for North Carolina, as they held Memphis to zero shots on target. Holding home field advantage through the quarterfinals, North Carolina will host Hofstra in the third round.
Hofstra 2-0 Yale
Following a 1-0 win over Bryant in the first round, Yale was unable to pull off another upset vs. another northeastern team. A Sunday evening matchup on Long Island saw the 14-seeded Hofstra come away with a 2-0 triumph. Hofstra’s leading scorer, Ryan Carmichael, gave his side the lead in the 38th minute, as he was the recipient of a fortunate bounce right on the goal line. The Pride took a 1-0 lead into the halftime break, before doubling their lead in the 67th minute. This time, it was a brilliant cross from Eliot Goldthrop that found the head of Carmichael, as Carmichael then found the back of the net from point-blank range.
Portland 0-3 Oregon State
In an all-Oregon matchup between the only two men’s D1 college soccer programs in the state, it was the boys from Corvallis who went up to Portland and pulled off the upset. Oregon State went ahead within ten minutes, as Logan Farrington’s goal in the 9th minute gave the Beavers the lead. The initial header from a free kick came to Farrington, who put his own header off the post and in. The one-goal margin remained through halftime and for nearly 20 minutes in the second half. In the 65th minute, it was Farrington again for Oregon State as he laced a volley past Portland keeper Kash Oladapo. Andrew De Gannes got in on the action in the 79th minute, as a clever free kick routine allowed De Gannes to curl a left-footed shot past Oladapo. Oregon State keeper Luis Castillo was only forced into two saves, while he kept his fifth clean sheet of the season. Oregon State will play a third straight road game in the tournament, heading down to Dallas to face SMU.
SMU 2-1 Denver
Two first-half goals powered the Mustangs to a second round win on Sunday night, taking down Denver. The first goal was an early Christmas present for SMU, as a long throw-in gave Bailey Sparks a chance to get his header on frame. However, a normally routine save got past Denver netminder Issac Nehme, gifting SMU a 1-0 lead in the 23rd minute. In the 40th minute, a long-range shot from Jose Orti skipped along the wet grass and got past Nehme, doubling SMU’s lead. The Mustangs took that 2-0 advantage into the break, but Denver got on the board in the second half, with Sam Bassett converting a penalty in the 68th minute. Denver then had multiple chances to get a late equalizer, with an 86th-minute header from Tyler Schommer hitting the post. Just two minutes later, a corner from Bassett hit the top of the crossbar. And then in the 90th minute, with less than 45 seconds left, Oje Ofunrein’s glancing header came back off the post, but just wouldn’t go in. The soccer gods were seemingly against Denver on Sunday night, as two posts and a crossbar within the final five minutes meant that the Pioneers fell just short. SMU survived multiple late scares, but that’s what tournament play sometimes comes down to: survive and advance. SMU will now host Oregon State in the third round.
Notre Dame Region
Virginia 2-1 [aet] FIU
It took 110 minutes, but in the end it was the 7th-seeded Virginia Cavaliers who took down FIU and advanced to the third round. Following a scoreless opening 36 minutes, Virginia took the lead first. Leo Alfonso had the ball fall to his feet inside the six-yard box, and made no mistake, putting the ball past a sprawling Tyler Hogan. The lead didn’t last for long, however, as FIU’s Joao Domingues drew the Panthers level with a goal in the 40th minute. The remainder of the first half and eternity of the second half concluded without another goal, so extra time was necessary to determine a winner. Alfonso’s second goal, a close-range bicycle kick in the 94th minute, gave Virginia a lead early on in extra time. It was a lead they wouldn’t give up, as FIU was unable to find a second goal, and Virginia survived to take on Indiana in the third round.
Wake Forest 2-3 [aet] Indiana
One of the most entertaining games of the second round was between two perennial contenders. In a back-and-forth encounter, it was the unseeded Indiana Hoosiers who advanced to the third round. It was Wake Forest who took a first-half lead, with Jahlane Forbes scoring in the 21st minute. The Demon Deacons went into halftime holding a narrow lead, but Indiana’s Hugo Bacharach found an equalizer in the 54th minute. 13 minutes later, Wake Forest retook the lead thanks to a penalty kick from Vlad Walent. This time the lead didn’t last for very long, as Indiana pulled level once more, with Karsen Henderlong scoring in the 73rd minute. There was a bit of controversy at the end of regulation, with those of Wake Forest persuasion likely believing that Bacharach should’ve been shown a red card for an elbow to the chest of Wake Forest’s Garrison Tubbs. However, no card was shown, and the match went on. In extra time, Bacharach ignited the controversy, scoring a sensational back-heel goal in the 94th minute. Wake Forest couldn’t find a goal in extra time, leaving Bacharach’s second goal as the winner. Indiana will head to Charlottesville for a third round matchup at Virginia.
Duke 1-2 [aet] Western Michigan
Another upset from the second round saw Missouri Valley champions Western Michigan take down the #15 seed, Duke. The home favorites took a first-half lead, with Amir Daley giving the Blue Devils the advantage in the 35th minute. Duke went into the half with a 1-0 lead, but midway through the second half, Western Michigan struck back. Tom Cooklin’s corner found the head of Dylan Sing, who was able to direct his header past Duke keeper Julian Eyestone. Neither side found a winner in regulation, so 20 minutes of extra time followed the initial 90. It didn’t take long to get a goal in extra time, though. The nation’s leading scorer extended his lead in that category, as Western Michigan’s Charlie Sharp gave the Broncos the lead in the 93rd minute. Sharp was able to outjump the defender, and placed a looping header just out of the reach of Eyestone. Western Michigan held on for the remaining 17 minutes, and will face Notre Dame in the third round
Notre Dame 2-0 Kentucky
The Fighting Irish were able to tame the Wildcats in South Bend, as the quadrant’s top seed and tournament’s #2 overall seed advanced to the third round. Notre Dame’s Daniel Russo came the closest to breaking through in the first half, as his shot was pushed onto the crossbar by Kentucky goalkeeper Casper Mols. After a scoreless first half, it didn’t take very long for Notre Dame to break through and find their first goal. A low through ball from KK Baffour found Bryce Boneau, who slid the ball past Mols. A Kentucky defender had a chance to clear the ball off the line, but was unable to do anything besides fire it into his own net. The goal gave Notre Dame a 1-0 lead in the 48th minute, and stayed like that for the next 30 minutes. Nolan Spicer put the game to bed for Notre Dame in the 79th minute, rounding the keeper and easily scoring into the empty net. Bryan Dowd made three saves and kept a clean sheet for Notre Dame. A third round meeting with Western Michigan, who have already defeated one ACC team in Duke, awaits for the Fighting Irish.
Picture from James Madison University Athletics
Brain Ludden is a contributing writer for College Soccer News.