Unseeded UMBC advanced past number twelve seed Creighton in penalty kicks and number eleven seed Providence topped number three seed Michigan State 3-2 to put exclamation marks on what have already been historic seasons by playing their way into the coveted College Cup for the first time in the history of each program. A determined Virginia team punched their ticket to the College Cup for the second consecutive year by advancing past number eight seed Georgetown in penalty kicks after netting the equalizer with less than a minute remaining in regularion. Last but not least the number two seeded UCLA Bruins continued their quest for a national championship under the direction of Jorge Salcedo by advancing past the North Carolina Tar Heels in dramatic fashion in a penalty kick shootout.
Providence 3 – Michigan State 2 – The number eleven seed Providence out of the Big East Conference continued to take care of business the Friar way on Saturday, December 6 with an on the road win over Michigan State out of the Big Ten Conference in East Lansing to advance to the College Cup for the first time in the history of the program where they will face the number two seeded UCLA Bruins.
Michigan State came out firing and got on the board in the 8th minute of the match when senior forward Adam Montague placed a shot from twelve yards out into the bottom right corner of the net after receiving a cross from teammate Tim Kreutz. Providence maintained their composure and established that they were in it to win it when Daniel Neustadter drove a shot from the top of the eighteen-yard box into the left side of the net in the 36th minute of play to knot the score at 1-1 after receiving a cross from Mac Steeves.
The Friars got a big momentum boost when Dominik Machado lofted a shot into the lower left side of the goal from close range with less than four minutes remaining in the first half of play with a double assist from Steeves and Fabio Machado. The two teams went into intermission with the scoreboard showing Providence 2 and Michigan State 1.
Providence expanded their lead to 3-1 in the second stanza when Fabio Machado made a nice move off the dribble and curved a shot into the top right corner of the net from twenty yards out in the 62nd minute of the contest after receiving a pass from senior defender Thomas Ballenthin who helped open up the field with a nice run down the left side of the pitch. The goal was Machado's six of the season and fifth game-winner.
Michigan State continued to press the attack and the Spartans were rewarded for it when midfielder Jay Chapman slotted a shot into the lower left side of the frame from around eight yards out in the 69th minute of the game with another assist coming from Kreutz to narrow the margin to 3-2 and create new life for the Spartans but that concluded the scoring for the evening. Zach Bennett had five saves in goal for Michigan State and Keasel Broome had six saves in goal to anchor a very well organized Providence defense.
Michigan State ends a very successful season in which they advanced to the Elite Eight for the second consecutive year with a 12-5-6 overall record.
The Big East Champion Providence Friars improve to 16-4-2. Good things continue to happen for a Providence program that recently received a 1.5 million pledge from Karl and Kerry Anderson in addition to a one million dollar donation previously received from Mike and Maura Chapey for the construction of a state-of -the-art soccer complex that will seat more than 2,500 fans.
UMBC 0 – Creighton 0 (OT) – Defense ruled in this one with shots on goal being few and far between. It took a penalty kick shootout to determine who advanced in this one after neither team was able to find the back of the net in regulation or overtime. Unseeded UMBC earned the program's first ever trip to the College Cup by prevailing 4 to 3 in a penalty kick shootout over the number twelve seeded Creighton Bluejays. The Retrievers are the first unseeded team since Massachusetts in 2007 to advance to the College Cup.
Creighton missed its first two attempts in the penalty kick shootout when UMBC redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Billy Heavner made a stop on Fabian Herbers' attempt and Eric Dejulio's attempt hit the far left post. Mamadou Kansaye, Jordan Becker, Michael Scott and Kay Banjo subsequently converted their penalty kick attempts to give the Retrievers the edge they needed to advance to the College Cup where they will face a Virginia team out of the Atlantic Coast Conference that advanced past number eight seed Georgetown to earn a spot in the Final Four for the second season in a row.
Veteran UMBC head coach Pete Caringi who has been using the Rodney Dangerfield "I don't get any respect" approach recently when it comes to the accomplishments of his team stated, "I've been in this game a long time. We believed all along that we could do this but I think everyone else around the country doubted us."
UMBC has now won four consecutive contests on the road in the 2014 Tournament and has not allowed a goal during that four game span. Virginia will be the third team from the ACC that UMBC will have faced this year in the NCAA Tournament. The Retrievers advanced past Wake Forest in penalty kicks in the first round and defeated number thirteen seed Louisville in the second round. UMBC also topped number four seed Maryland 1-0 out of the Big Ten Conference in the second round of the tourney.
Retriever head coach Peter Caringi has declared from the get go that he has a ton of confidence in the ability of his team and the belief that they can hold their own with anyone in the country. Caringi stated, "For our players, this (advancing to the College Cup) was a goal for our team since day one." He added, "To go on the road and play four games against four ranked teams is pretty special." Creighton head coach Elmar Bolowich pretty much summed up the contest when he stated, "They (UMBC) held steady in the back and recovered well. They didn't make a mistake. You're always looking for that one lapse where you can sneak one in but today it didn't happen."
Credit the UMBC veteran senior backline of Oumar Ballo, Marquez Fernandez, Spencer Williams, and Jordan Becker with another solid performance. UMBC out of the America East Conference is undefeated in its last ten contests and improves to 14-5-5 while Creighton ends another very productive season with a 16-3-3 overall record.
Virginia 1 – Georgetown 1 (OT) – This one once again proved the old axiom that it is not over until the final second ticks off the clock. Number sixteen seed Virginia prevailed 5 to 4 in a penalty kick shootout over number eight seed Georgetown to punch their ticket to the College Cup for the second consecutive season before a packed house of 2,232 fans at Shaw Field in the nation's capitol. The Cavaliers advance to face the unseeded UMBC Retrievers who also advanced after prevailing in a penalty kick shootout over Creighton.
Neither team was able to score in the first half of play. Georgetown got on the scoreboard first in the 59th minute of the game when Austin Martz controlled the rebound of a missed shot at the edge of the box and drilled it back into the near upper 90 to give the Hoyas a 1-0 advantage that looked at the time that it might be the lone goal of the contest. However, Virginia proved otherwise when in the last minute of regulation Sheldon Sullivan sent a cross in that Riggs Lennon got his head on that Tood Wharton then alertly and decisively headed into the near post to knot the score at 1-1 and send the contest into overtime. The score remained 1-1 at the end of two overtime periods. Wharton, Patrick Foss, Scott Thomsen, Sam Hayward and Lennon converted their penalty kicks before a Georgetown player missed to enable Virginia to survive and advance.
Georgetown had a 16 to 8 advantage in shots for the evening including a 5-0 advantage during the overtime periods and an 8 to 2 advantage in corner kicks for the contest. Tomas Gomez had one save in goal for Georgetown while Calle Brown had a three save evening between the pipes for Virginia.
The Cavaliers played once again without the services of senior midfielder Eric Bird and once again showed a lot of grit and organization to come away with the win. Cavalier head coach George Gelnovatch stated, "In my time here, that was one of the gutsiest performances I've seen. We did a great job of understanding the crowd, the field and opponent, and dealing with all of this, and tying it with fifty-two seconds left and then staying tight in overtime."
Virginia improves to 12-6-3 overall while the Hoyas who have become one of the elite programs in college soccer under the direction of head coach Brian Wiese conclude their season with a 14-4-5 overall record. Wiese stated, "The boys played a really good game, I was really proud of them. There was a big crowd, there was a big occasion and it was a big game and they came out and played like that."
UCLA 3 – North Carolina 3 (OT) – Tora, Tora ,Tora. Everyone expected this one to be action packed and it was. In what was without a doubt the most attack oriented contest in the Elite Eight, the Bruins topped the Tar Heels 7-6 in a penalty kick shootout Saturday night at Drake Stadium in Los Angeles after the two teams were tied 3-3 at the end of regulation and overtime to earn the right to advance to the College Cup. This one had a little bit of everything: outstanding goals, big stops between the pipes, good movement off the ball, and a controversial call or two.
The Tar Heels had to play a man down for most of the evening when junior midfielder Alex Olofson was shown a red card in the 20th minute of the contest for allegedly going spikes up on a sliding tackle on UCLA midfielder Grady Howe.
North Carolina drew first blood when sophomore midfielder Omar Holness out of a free kick sent a low hard shot from twenty-five yards out past the wall and into the bottom left corner of the goal from twenty-five yards out in the 40th minute of play. The two teams went into intermission with the Tar Heels holding a 1-0 lead.
Brian Iloski knotted the score at 1-1 for the Bruins in the 69th minute when Chase Gasper chipped a pass into the box that Iloski volleyed off of the right post and into the goal. Abu Danladi was also credited with an assist on the play.
Freshman defender Christian Chavez stretched the Bruin lead to 2-1 when he scored from within the box just a little more than a minute later after receiving a through ball from Danladi. Danladi who was a force all evening then showed his quickness and touch on the ball when he netted the third UCLA goal of the contest in the 75th minute when he pushed the ball forward at speed off the dribble and made a nice move to create the distance he needed to cleanly place a shot into an empty net.
The Tar Heels continued to press the attack and in the 78th minute of the game senior forward Tyler Engle scored from within the box out of a scrum that occurred out of a corner kick to close the gap to 3-2. North Carolina senior forward Andy Craven who has been a big play guy all season knotted the score at 3-3 twenty-four seconds later in the 78th minute of play when he sent a bullet into the top of the net with a double assist from Holness and Raby George. That concluded the scoring for the evening as neither team was able to find the back of the net for the remainder of regulation or in the two overtime periods.
Tar Heel netminder Brendan Moore stopped UCLA's first penalty kick attempt but Bruin goalkeeper Earl Edwards even things up with a save of a UNC attempt in the fifth round. Both teams then made their next two attempts. In the eighth round Gasper converted his penalty kick and Edwards made the save on Warren Marshall's attempt for the Tar Heels to give the Bruins the edge they needed to survive and advance to the College Cup for the fourteenth time in school history.
UCLA improves to 13-4-5 and will next tangle with a Providence team that is making its first ever Final Four appearance. North Carolina showed a ton of mettle in this one to hang as tough as they did with only ten men on the pitch for much of the evening. The Tar Heels end the 2014 season with a 15-5-2 overall record to close out a stellar season in which they made a brilliant run in the NCAA Tournament.
Bruin head coach Jorge Salcedo stated, "What a fantastic night for our program and our University. To see all of these students, alumni, and everyone enjoy the result was a memory that will last a long time.