Men's Soccer 2014 NCAA Tournament #1 Notre Dame / #16 Virginia Regional Breakdown

Men's Soccer 2014 NCAA Tournament #1 Notre Dame / #16 Virginia Regional Breakdown

Notre Dame and Virginia, who have already met twice this season, could face each other again in the quarterfinals, but all of the unseeded teams in this part of the bracket have the potential to make things interesting.


#1 Notre Dame vs. Ohio State/Akron

Akron and Ohio State crossed paths back in September with the Zips coming away with a 3-1 win in Columbus. Akron will have to make the in-state trip once again and, just like the first time around, the Buckeyes will need to contain sophomore midfielder Adam Najem. Najem is one of the nation’s scoring leaders and he registered five shots and a goal against Ohio State in their prior match. Given Akron’s solid defensive corps and the Buckeyes’ inability to score at times, Ohio State could be in for another tough match. However, the Buckeyes have some impressive wins, and they seem to be in much better form now than they were in late September.

Notre Dame is led by senior midfielder Nick Besler and junior midfielder Patrick Hodan, both of whom have contributed in different ways. Hodan leads the Fighting Irish in goals and points, while Besler is a key link in the midfield, helping support the back line and getting the ball to teammates. Notre Dame plays a possession game, so the winner of the Ohio State/Akron match will need to find a way to limit the Fighting Irish’s time on the ball.


#16 Virginia vs. UNC Wilmington/Bucknell

North Carolina-Wilmington received an at-large bid despite falling to James Madison in the CAA tournament semifinals. It isn’t surprising to see the Seahawks in the NCAA tournament, though, given their strength of schedule, particularly their out-of-conference schedule. Wins against ACC teams Duke and North Carolina are just a couple of their impressive feats this season. The Seahawks are led by senior midfielder Jamie Dell, whose 10 goals are tied for 20th in the country. However, Bucknell – the Patriot League Tournament Champions – can answer with a 10-goal scorer of their own…junior forward Jess Klug. His 27 points also rank among the best in the nation. It the end, it could be Wilmington’s seasoned team that gives the Seahawks the edge at home.

Virginia’s season has been one of inconsistency and a lack of firepower, which is why the Cavaliers are vulnerable even in the early stages of this tournament. Defense has kept them in games, and this will have to continue against UNC Wilmington or Bucknell. Otherwise, Virginia could see their season end abruptly in the second round.


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