Only eight teams are left standing now on the road to the College Cup as the dreams of a trip to the Final Four ended for eight more teams over the weekend in the Sweet Sixteen. The field now consists of Wake Forest, Clemson, Louisville, North Carolina and Virginia Tech from the Atlantic Coast Conference, Stanford from the Pac-12, Providence from the Big East,and Denver out of the Summit League. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the third round of play was Virginia Tech's 2-1 win over number seven seed Indiana in overtime. The number two, three, four, five, six, and nine seeds are still standing along with unseeded Virginia Tech and Providence.
Providence 2 – Creighton 1 – The unseeded Friars continue to roll winning their third contest in the NCAA Tournament to improve to 15-6-0 to earn a trip to the Elite Eight where they will face number nine seed North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The "it's not over until it is over" Friars once again showed a lot of grit when they came from a goal down on the road to top fellow Big East Conference foe Creighton 2-1.
Sophomore midfielder Joel Rydstrand gave Creighton a 1-0 advantage in the ninth minute of the contest when he skillfully sent a rebound back into the net from inside the box. It felt like Creighton might take control of the match at that point but Providence evidently thought otherwise.
The Friars evened the score at 1-1 when forward Julian Gressel sent a shot into the frame from about six yards out after receiving a pass from midfielder Brendan Constantine. Freshman midfielder Danny Griffin netted what proved to be the game-winner when he sent a bullet into the top right corner of the goal from eighteen yards out in the eighty-third minute of the match after receiving a pass from Gressel.
Providence's redshirt sophomore netminder Colin Miller had a solid evening in goal recording nine saves to help his team secure the win. Senior Alex Kapp had three saves in goal for the Bluejays who end the 2016 campaign with a 13-7-3 overall record.
#9 seed North Carolina 1 – #8 seed Syracuse 0 – As expected this one was a very competitive contests between two of the top teams in the country. Freshman Jeremy Kelly scored the lone goal of the match when he utilized his speed and touch on the ball to create the space he needed to slot a shot into the left corner of the goal from the top of the box in the 32nd minute of the contest after receiving a pass from freshman midfielder Cam Lindley. The UNC defense anchored by backs Alex Comsia, Colton Storm, and Walker Hume and goalkeeper James Pyle did an excellent job of containing the Syracuse offense to record the shutout. Syracuse sophomore Hendrik Hilpert had a career-high eight saves in goal for the Orange.
The Tar Heels improve to 13-3-3 overall and advance to the Elite Eight where they will host a red hot Providence team out of the Big East Conference. North Carolina is one of five teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference who have advanced to the Elite Eight.
Syracuse ends another very successful season with a 12-4-4 overall record. Syracuse head coach Ian McIntyre stated after the contest, "This senior class has left the Syracuse program in a better place than they found it. He then added, "It's been a privilege to work with this senior class."
#5 seed Stanford 1 – #12 seed Virginia – 0 (ot) – This one was a nail-biter that was scoreless at the end of regulation and one overtime period and looked to be heading toward a penalty kick shootout before junior forward Foster Langsdorf headed in the game-winning goal for Stanford in the second overtime period. The score was Langsdorf's fourteenth goal of the year and seventh game-winner of the season. It came about when redshirt sophomore back Adam Mosharrafa served in a ball out of a restart from forty-five yards out to the right post which back Tomas HIlliard-Arce headed back toward the front of the goal that Langsdorf then headed into the net.
The Cardinal ended the evening with a seventeen to nine advantage in shots but both teams had four shots on goal. Andrew Epstein had four saves in goal to help Stanford record the shutout. Jeff Caldwell had three saves between the pipes for Virginia.
Defending national champion Stanford dodges a bullet to improve to 13-3-4 and earn the right to continue on the road to the College Cup with a trip to Kentucky their next destination where they will face the number four seed Louisville Cardinals in the Elite Eight with a ticket to the College Cup on the line.
#4 seed Louisville 3 – #13 seed Notre Dame 1 – Louisville continues their recent record of success against Notre Dame with a solid win in the Sweet Sixteen in this match between two Atlantic Coast Conference teams. Junior forward Mohamed Thiaw converted the rebound of his own shot after receiving a pass from back Tim Kubel in the sixteenth minute of the match to give Louisville the early advantage. The score remained 1-0 at halftime.
Notre Dame forward Jon Gallagher scored the lone goal of the evening (his fourteenth of the year) for the Irish in the fifty-fourth minute of play after a nice move to place himself in position to slot a shot into the back of the frame to tie it at 1-1 and give Notre Dame new life. Forward Jeffrey Farina contributed the helper on the goal.
However Louisville responded with a Tate Schmitt header just inside the left post to go up 2-1 in the seventy-first minute of the game with Danny Reynolds contributing the helper. Cherif Dieye then scored for Louisville in the closing minute of the match to make it 3-1 with a double assist from Thiaw and Daniel Johnson.
Chris Hubbard had one save in goal for the Irish and netminder Stefan Cleveland had a three save evening between the pipes for Louisville.
Louisville improves to 14-5-2 overall and advances to the Elite Eight where they will host number five seed Stanford. Notre Dames ends the 2016 season with a 12-7-2 overall record and concludes their season for the third consecutive year in the Sweet Sixteen.
#3 seed Clemson 3 – #14 seed Albany 1 – As expected Clemson applied pressure early on but Albany came to play and held their own for a large portion of the contest until Clemson pulled away in the later minutes of the match to secure a solid 3-1 win and advance to the Elite Eight for the second consecutive season.
Senior Austin Burnikel scored in the forty-fifth minute of the match from six yards after receiving a pass from Oliver Shannon to break the ice and give Clemson a 1-0 advantage which they maintained when the two sides went into intermission at Historic Riggs Field.
Albany scored the equalizer two minutes into the second half when midfielder Carlos Clark controlled the rebound of teammate Afonso Pinheiro's shot in the box and deposited it into the back of the net to knot the score at 1-1 and create a little excitement for the visiting Great Danes.
Burnikel then scored his second goal of the evening when he decisively drove a header into the back of the frame in the eighty-first minute out of a corner kick served in by Diego Campos to give Clemson a 2-1 lead. Alex Happi added the insurance goal for the Tigers in the eighty-fourth minute when he scored out of a corner kick with a double assist from Burnikel and back Aaron Jones.
Clemson improves to 14-3-5 overall while Albany concludes a banner season with a 13-6-2 overall record that they will likely build upon in the future.
The Tigers will host number six seed Denver on Friday in what shapes up to be an intriguing and exciting Elite Eight contest between two excellent teams.
#6 seed Denver 2 – #11 seed Washington 1 – The Pioneers did a good job of taking advantage of the scoring opportunities that came their way to improve to 19-3-0 and punch their ticket to Elite Eight for the first time since 1970.
Denver got on the board in the twenty-fifth minute when centerback Kortne Ford's header out of a corner kick served in by midfielder Karsten Hanlin bounced off the post and was alertly sent back into the net from six yards out by midfielder Chandler Crosswait .
Denver netted what proved to be the insurance goal to up their lead to 2-0 when Hanlin sent a ball into the box out of a set pierce from thirty yards out that forward Andre Shinyashiki decisively headed into the back of the frame from five yards out. The goal was Shinyashiki's team leading eighth of the season to date.
Washington then began pushing numbers forward and successfully narrowed the gap to 2-1 when midfielder Steven Wright converted a penalty kick in the seventy-eighth minute of the contest. However, that concluded the scoring for the evening.
NIck Gardner had four saves between the pipes for Denver while Auden Schilder had two saves in goal for Washington. The Huskies conclude a successful season with a 14-7-0 overall record.
Number six seed Denver earns the right to travel cross country to face number three seed Clemson in what shapes up to be an excellent Elite Eight contest between two teams that have their sights set on advancing to the College Cup.
Virginia Tech 2 – #7 seed Indiana 1 (ot) – Unseeded Virginia Tech upsets number seven seed Indiana in a hard fought thriller in Bloomington to continue their magical ride in the NCAA Tournament.
The Hokies got a big boost in the nineteenth minute of the contest when midfielder Brendan Moyers placed a shot in the back of the net from eight yards out after receiving a cross from back Elias Tamburini. Virginia Tech went into intermission with a 1-0 advantage.
Indiana pressed the attack in the second half and tied it at 1-1 in the seventy-seventh minute of the match when back Grant Lillard sent a header into the back of the frame out of a corner kick with a double assist from sophomores Andrew Gutman and Rees Wedderburn. The contest remained tied 1-1 at the end of regulation.
Junior midfielder Forrest White came off the pine to net the game-winner for the Hokies in the ninety-eighth minute of play when he sent a bending ball into the back of the net from eighteen yards out that hit the post and found its way into the back of the frame . The goal was White's first of the 2016 season and it could not have come at a more opportune time for Virginia Tech.
Junior Ben Lundgaard had nine saves in goal for Virginia Tech. Freshman Christian Lomeli had two saves between the pipes for Indiana.
Virginia Tech improves to 13-4-4 overall and advances to the Elite Eight. Indiana sustains just their second loss of the season and first at home in a heartbreaker to conclude the 2016 campaign with a 12-2-7 overall record.
#2 seed Wake Forest 2 – SIUE 1 – SIUE came to Winston-Salem prepared to play but came out on the short end of the contest when Wake Forest's junior forward Jon Bakero scored in the third minute after receiving a cross from midfielder Jacori Hayes and again in the seventy-second minute when he skillfully placed the deflection of teammate Ema Twumasi's shot into the back of the net out of a corner kick put in play by midfielder Luis Argudo.
SIUE back Austin Ledbetter alertly placed the rebound of teammate Mathias Ebbesen's attempted shot into the back of the frame in the forty-first minute of play to tie the score at 1-1 to get a very determined SIUE team back into the contest before Bakero produced the game-winner in the seventy-second minute to send the Deacons back to the Elite Eight for the second consecutive season under the leadership of head coach Bobby Muuss where they will host fellow ACC member Virginia Tech.
Wake Forest improves to 17-2-3. SIUE under the direction of Mario Sanchez closes out the 2016 season with a 10-5-7 overall record after advancing past Michigan State and Butler in the NCAA Tournament in contests that were decided by penalty kick shootouts.