The first round of play in the 2016 NCAA Tournament concluded on Thursday night with sixteen teams earning the right to continue forward on the road to the College Cup (Final Four) while the road and dreams of an extended stay in the tournament ended for sixteen teams. The tournament field has decreased from forty-eight to thirty-two teams as we enter the second round of play on Sunday when the sixteen teams that prevailed in the first round take to the road to tangle with the sixteen seeds to determine who earns the right to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. It promises to be an exciting weekend of college soccer for participants and fans of college soccer across the country.
Providence 2 – Delaware 0 – Redshirt junior Brendan Reardon alertly took advantage of a defensive miscue in the box by Delaware to place a shot into the back of the net in the eighth minute of the match to give Providence an early 1-0 advantage. Julian Gressel netted the insurance goal for the Friars in the seventy-first minute after receiving a pass from teammate Alex DaCosta. The goal was Gressel's twelfth of the season to date. Providence improves to 13-6-0 overall and advances to face number one seed Maryland in College Park on Sunday. Delaware out of the CAA ends the season with a 12-8-1 overall record.
Creighton 3 – Tulsa 0 – The Bluejays avenge a regular season loss to Tulsa and advance to the second round of the NCAA Tourney where they will go up against number sixteen seed Kentucky in Lexington. Creighton jumped out early with a header from Mitch LaGro in the third minute of play out of a corner kick served in by Joel Rydstrand and a goal by Myles Englis in the sixth minute after receiving a cross from Luke Haakenson to take a 2-0 lead. Lopez-Espin scored in the sixty-eighth minute off a give and go with Haakenson to put the contest on ice. Alex Kapp had two saves in goal for Creighton and Michael Kluver had a single save in goal for the Bluejays to record the shutout. Jake McGuire had three saves between the pipes for Tulsa. Creighton improves to 12-6-3 overall and moves on to play yet another day while Tulsa under the direction of Tom McIntosh out of the American Athletic Conference concludes play in 2016 with a 10-5-5 overall record.
FGCU 2 – South Florida 2 – This one was close as anticipated and went back and forth between two evenly matched teams. The contest ultimately came down to a penalty kick shootout to determine who advanced. Forward Albert Ruiz gave FGCU an early lead when he scored in the twenty-seventh minute with a double assist from Arion Sobers-Assue and midfielder Jiro Toyama Barriga . The goal was Ruiz's twenty first of the season to date. Midfielder Lindo Mfeka responded in the forty-third minute with a goal for South Florida with a double assist from teammates Bradley Farias and Luis Garza to send the teams into intermission tied at 1-1. Marcus Epps scored for South Florida in the fifty-fourth minute with an assist from Farias to give the Bulls a 2-1 advantage. Justin Gavin then found the back of the net for FGCU in the sixty-first minute of play to tie it again at 2-2. The goal was Gavin's first of the 2016 season and it was huge. FGCU then prevailed 3-0 in a penalty kick shootout to earn the right to travel to Chapel Hill to face number nine seed North Carolina in the second round of the NCAA Tourney. FGCU under the leadership of Bob Butehorn since the program began in 2007 is now 14-3-3 while South Florida under the direction of George Kiefer out of the American Athletic Conference ends their season with a solid 10-6-4 overall record.
Dartmouth 1 – St. Francis Brooklyn 0 (ot) – As expected this contest was a defensive battle. Junior midfielder Matt Danilack netted the lone goal of the evening in the 104th minute of play when he drilled a shot into the lower right corner of the goal after receiving a cross from senior midfielder Alexander Marsh to give the Big Green the edge they needed to survive and advance to the second round where they will face number eight seed Syracuse out of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Dartmouth out of the Ancient Eight improves to 9-4-5. A very talented and determined St. Francis Brooklyn team concludes their season with a 12-5-3 overall record.
Pacific 1 – CSUN 0 – Pacific out of the West Coast Conference and CSUN out of the Big West Conference were among five teams representing the west coast in the NCAA Tournament this year. Tariq Branche's first goal of the year was a big one for Pacific as he netted what proved the be the lone score of the evening when he one-timed a pass from teammate Tyson Fox into the back of the frame in the seventy-seventh minute of the match. Kevin Marquez was outstanding between the pipes for CSUN in a losing effort making four saves including a stop of a penalty kick. Curtis Goldsmith had two saves between the pipes for the Tigers to record the shutout. Pacific, the Cinderella team of the 2016 season, is just in their third season as a Division I program. The Tigers, who improve to 13-2-3 after going 1-15-1 overall in 2015, advance to face number five seed Stanford on Sunday in the second round. CSUN which won the Big West Tournament closes out the 2016 season with a 9-7-5 overall record.
Vermont 4 – Rider 1 – In a bit of a surprise Vermont scored two goals in each stanza to roll past Rider into the second round of the NCAA Tourney where they will face number twelve seed Virginia out of the Atlantic Coast Conference. It was the Brian Wright show on the offensive side of the ball for the Catamounts. Wright contributed a hat trick scoring in the twenty-fourth, forty-third and final minute of the contest. Stefan Lamanna also got into the act with a goal of his own assisted by Wright in the seventy-first minute of play. Arthur Herpreck netted the lone goal of the evening for Rider in the eighty-ninth minute with as assist from Zach Bond. Vermont improves to 13-6-1 while Rider closes out a very good season in which they were unbeaten in their last nine contests before falling to Vermont with a 13-3-3 overall record.
Loyola Chicago 2 – UIC 0 – Loyola Chicago bounces back from a defeat in the semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament to secure a solid but close win over UIC in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to earn the right to travel to face number thirteen seed Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Sophomore forward Alec Lasinski and senior midfielder Kevin Engesser contributed the scoring for Loyola Chicago. The Ramblers improve upon what has been a banner breakout season to up their record to date to 14-3-1 while the Flames out of the Horizon League end the 2016 campaign with a 9-8-3 overall record.
UCLA 4 – Colgate 2 – The Bruins make their thirty-fourth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. It looked at one time like the Bruins might run away with it when they jumped out to a 3-1 advantage fairly early in the contest but a determined Colgate side, that had to travel cross country, showed a lot of grit to hang in there the way they did to conclude the first stanza of play with UCLA only up 3-2. Jose Hernandez gave UCLA a 1-0 advantage when he sent a shot into the near left post in the seventeenth minute of play. Colgate responded in the twenty-second minute with Zach Pagani drilling a low shot into the left post to tie it at 1-1. Willie Raygoza and Abu Danladi scored in the twenty-six and thirty second minutes respectively to give UCLA a 3-1 lead. Colgate's Bruno Scodari then scored from inside the box in the thirty-eighth minute to close the gap to 3-2 and give the Raiders new life. The contest remained 3-2 until Kike Poleo scored out of a free kick put in play by Jackson Yueill in the closing minute of the contest to extend UCLA's lead to 4-2 and seal the win for the Bruins. UCLA improves to 10-7-2 overall and earns the right to advance to the second round of play where they will square off with number four seed Louisville in what promises to be an interesting match-up. Colgate out of the Patriot League under the direction of Erik Ronning concludes the 2016 season with a 13-7-2 overall record.
South Carolina 1 – Mercer 0 – Kevin Walker scored the lone goal of the contest in the 39th minute of play. The goal came out of a free kick from the right side of the box served in by Kurtis Turner to Andres Streete who headed the ball to Walker who netted what proved to be the game-winning goal. William Pyle had four saves in goal to record the shutout for South Carolina. The Gamecocks improve to 11-7-1 overall and advance to face instate rival and number three seed Clemson in the second round of play. The geographical nature of the pairings in the NCAA Tourney result in another rematch between two teams that squared off during regular season play when Clemson topped South Carolina 2-1 in Columbia in the season opener for both programs. Mercer, who topped South Carolina 3-2 in overtime when the two teams met back on August 30 in a regular season contest, is now 1-9-0 against the Gamecocks. The Bears out of the Southern Conference close out a successful season with a 13-7-1 overall record.
Boston College 1 – Fordam 0 – Senior midfielder Zeiko Lewis came up with the big play once again for the Eagles when he scored the lone goal of the evening in the 82nd minute of play. Sophomore forward Simon Enstrom made a nice move down the right side of the pitch before sending a ball to Lewis who decisively placed it into the net from inside the box. Sophomore Cedric Saladin had a two save evening between the pipes to record his seventh shutout of the year to date. Boston College gains momentum and improves to 9-8-3. The Eagles out of the ACC now advance to tangle with number fourteen seed Albany out of the America East Conference in the second round of the NCAA Tourney. It is noteworthy that Albany defeated Syracuse out of the ACC 2-1 when those two sides tangled back on October 3. Fordham concludes the 2016 campaign with a 10-7-4 overall record.
New Mexico 0 – Portland 0 – What looked going in to be a contest that would feature a goal or two ended up being a defensive struggle that was among the first round contests that ultimately required a penalty kick shootout to determine who advanced after it was scoreless at the end of regulation and two overtime periods. New Mexico prevailed 6-5 in the penalty kick shootout when sophomore Simon Spangenberg's penalty kick ricocheted off the left post into the net in the ninth round of the shootout to give the Lobos the edge they needed to prevail. New Mexico redshirt freshman Ford Parker who replaced Jason Beaulieu in goal for the shootout made three saves in goal to help the Lobos prevail. A very good New Mexico side is now 12-6-3 overall and earns the right to travel to tangle with number eleven seed Washington out of the Pac-12 conference in what looks to be one of the most intriguing second round contests. The Lobos are among four CUSA teams still dancing as South Carolina also advanced in first round action and seeds Charlotte and Kentucky earned a first round bye into the second round of play. Portland, which had to play without West Coast Conference Player of the Year Eddie Sanchez due to a yellow card accumulation, concludes what by all measures was a banner season with a 12-5-2 record that will likely serve as a building block for success in the future.
UNLV 1 – New Mexico 1 – UNLV, which punched a ticket into the NCAA Tourney by winning the WAC Tournament and the conference's automatic berth, continues to take care of business edging San Diego State 6-5 in penalty kicks after the contest was tied 1-1 at the conclusion of regular time and overtime. UNLV, the only team to enter the 2016 NCAA Tournament with a losing record, served notice that they belong in the field and now travel to face number six seed Denver in the second round of the NCAA Tourney. UNLV took the early lead in this one when midfielder Oscar Velazquez lofted a free kick into the far right side of the box where defender Adam Musovski drove a header into the back of the net at close range in the thirtieth minute of play. The teams went into intermission with the visiting Rebels up 1-0. San Diego State got on the board in the opening minute of the second half when A.J. Vergara drove a shot into the back of the net from thirty-two yards out to tie it at 1-1 and give the Aztecs new found life. Both teams gave it their all but that concluded the scoring for the evening. Velazquez came up big for UNLV in the shootout when he converted his penalty kick attempt in the eighth round of the shootout to give UNLV the edge they needed to prevail. UNLV is now 10-11-2 while San Diego State out of the Pac-12 concludes a very solid season of play with a 9-4-6 overall record.
Wake Forest Bracket
Akron 2 – Villanova 0 – Freshman midfielder Nick Hinds came up big again for the Zips scoring unassisted in the 39th minute of the contest and again in the 73rd minute with a double assist from teammates Goncalo Soares and Jonathan Lewis to top Villanova out of the Big East Conference. Akron improves to 13-5-3 overall while Villanova closes out a very solid season in which they earned their first ever berth in the NCAA Tournament with a 10-8-3 overall record. Redshirt junior Will Steiner had six saves in goal for Villanova. Ben Lundt recorded the shutout between the pipes for Akron. The Zips travel to Bloomington to face number seven seed Indiana in the second round of play.
Virginia Tech 1 – ETSU 0 – The Hokies add another solid win to what has been a breakthrough and banner season to date. Nico Quashe's header out of a corner kick put in play by defender Elias Tamburinie gave Virginia Tech the edge they needed to top a determined ETSU side to earn the right to advance to the second round of play where they will travel to square off with a very competitive number ten seeded Charlotte team. The Hokies and the 49ers tied 0-0 when the two teams played each other back on October 18 in Blacksburg. Virginia Tech improves 11-4-4 while ETSU closes out the 2016 season with a 12-5-3 overall record.
SIUE 1 – Michigan State 1 – This first round match was a heartbreaker that could easily have gone either way. However when it was all said and done SIUE prevailed. The two sides were tied at the end of regulation and overtime. SIUE then prevailed 9-8 in a penalty kick shootout to earn the right to tangle with number fifteen seed Butler out of the Big East Conference in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Senior defender Austin Ledbetter converted the penalty kick in the eleventh round of the shootout that sealed the win for SIUE. Mike Marcantognini placed a shot into the upper left corner of the net from twenty-five yards out in the fortieth minute of play to give Michigan State a 1-0 advantage. Keegan McHugh sent a blast into the top right corner of the goal from the top of the box in the sixty-seventh minute of the match to knot it at 1-1 and give SIUE new life. The goal was McHugh's first career score at SIUE. The Cougars survive and advance with a 10-4-6 overall record while the Spartans conclude a very successful season with a 13-5-2 overall record.
Coastal Carolina 2 – Radford 1 – Einar Einarsson scored in the thirtieth minute with an assist from Ryan Willoughby to give the Chanticleers an early 1-0 lead. Frantzdy Pierrot converted the insurance goal just 23 seconds later when he made a nice move off the dribble to create the space he needed to place a shot into the back of the frame. Radford's Fraser Colmer skillfully placed a shot into the upper left corner of the net out of a free kick from twenty-five yards out in the fiftieth minute to close the gap to 2-1 but that concluded the scoring for the evening. The Chanticleers, playing their first season as a member of the Sun Belt Conference, became the first team out of the conference to secure a win in the NCAA Tournament. Coastal Carolina improves 10-6-3 overall while Radford finishes play in 2016 with an impressive 14-4-2 overall record. Things don't get any easier for the Chanticleers who now travel to Winston-Salem to face number two seed Wake Forest in the second round of the NCAA Tourney.