Men's Soccer 2014 NCAA Tournament #6 Stanford / #11 Providence Regional Breakdown

Men's Soccer 2014 NCAA Tournament #6 Stanford / #11 Providence Regional Breakdown

This is a very deep region. Four of the teams currently sit in the top 30 of the NCAA’s RPI rankings and all four have a legit shot at advancing. Stanford is the top team, but Providence is right behind them. That would be a great matchup. Stanford sits at two in the RPI and Providence is at four. Both are in Top Drawer Soccer’s top 10 rankings. Getting to that matchup though will not be easy. UC Irvine and Dartmouth are legit threats that have the chance to pull off an upset. Both have some big time playmakers that could be the difference maker in a tight game. When it comes down to it though, Stanford and Providence are top-notch opponents that just don’t lose at home. The two teams have combined to go 15-1-3 at home this season. Stanford is undefeated at home and they will host through the third round. Road teams will have their work cut out for them in this region.


#6 Stanford vs. UC Irvine/UNLV

This has the potential to be one of the best first round games in the tournament. UC Irvine was one of the best teams in college soccer this season. The Anteaters started off the season by going 11-1-2 over their first 14 games. Their first loss didn’t come until October 4th. Since then, the Anteaters have struggled a bit, winning just three of their last eight, but this is still a talented team. Irvine has a quartet of playmakers that have wreaked havoc on opposing teams all year. All four have registered double digit points and scored at least four goals. UNLV got off to an equally impressive start this season, going 10-2-1 over their first 13 games. Like the Anteaters, UNLV has four playmakers who have registered double-digit points and at least four goals. That should make for an exciting, attack-minded game. UNLV has the better numbers statistically on the season, but that could be attributed to the level of competition they face. What could separate the two teams is experience. UNLV has no recent tournament experience. Irvine was a tournament team last year and they knocked off North Carolina. That should give the Anteaters an upper hand in a close game, but when UNLV has a player like Salvador Bernal, eight goals and three assists, anything can happen.

Stanford has to be a little disappointed with their seeding. The Cardinal won the Pac-12 title and are currently ranked first in the country by Top Drawer Soccer and second in the RPI, but are just the sixth overall seed. To make things worse, there are two very talented teams vying for a shot to play the Cardinal. Stanford is a talented team on both ends of the field, ranking in the top 30 nationally in both scoring offense and goals against average. Seven players on the Cardinal roster have at least nine points this season and they have been tested against some of the best competition in the country. Defensively, Stanford has allowed more than one goal in a game just four times this season. That bodes well against Irvine or UNLV, who are offensive minded teams. Stanford has a great shot to make a run in the tournament, especially when they have a player like Jordan Morris on their roster. A sophomore, Morris has established himself as one of the top players in the country and has even caught the eye of USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann. Morris has made multiple camps with the senior USMNT and is currently with the team as they prepare for a friendly with the Republic of Ireland. Should Morris make an appearance in that game, he would be the first college player to do so since 1995. Having a player of Morris’s caliber gives you a chance to win any game and it gives Stanford a shot making a serious run for the title.


#11 Providence vs. Dartmouth/Fordham

Dartmouth put together an impressive 2014 season. After opening with back to back losses to Notre Dame and Indiana, the Big Green have gone 11-2-2. If it wasn’t for a two game stretch in the middle of October where Dartmouth dropped two straight games to Boston U and Penn, the Big Green would be unbeaten in their last 15 games. Alex Adelabu has been a goal-scoring machine for Dartmouth, netting nine goals on the year. Supporting Adelabu is a balanced attack. Robin Alnas and Hugh Darnilack both have eight points on the season, registering two goals and four assist apiece. Five other players have scored multiple goals. Four more have picked up at least two assists. Together, they have Dartmouth ranked as one of the top 25 scoring offenses in the country. The Big Green will face Fordham in the opening round. The two teams played each other back in September and Dartmouth came out on top, 2-0. Fordham is a different team now though. The Rams turned it on at the end of the year, beating VCU, Saint Louis and Rhode Island in the A-10 Tournament to secure an NCAA Tournament bid, despite their 8-8-4 record. Andres Penfold, seven goals, gives the Rams a playmaker up top and goalkeeper Sean Brailey, .826 save percentage, can keep the Rams in games with his play in net. Fordham will need all the help they can get if they are going to continue their win streak.

Providence is a big time offensive team that will be tough for teams to handle. Four different players have registered at least 15 points this season, led by Markus Naglestad’s nine goals and two assists and Mac Steeves’ eight goals and two assists. When the Friars score two or more goals, they are 12-0. In all other games, the Friars are 1-4-2. If a team is going to beat Providence, they will need to shut down the Friar’s attack. That’s easier said than done. Neither Dartmouth nor Fordham have a strong defense this season and that bodes well for Providence. Naglestad and Steeves should be a tough load to handle, so watch for Providence to advance.


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