Men's Soccer 2014 NCAA Tournament #4 Maryland / #13 Louisville Regional Breakdown

Men's Soccer 2014 NCAA Tournament #4 Maryland / #13 Louisville Regional Breakdown

Maryland is the clear cut favorite in this region, especially when both of the ACC schools in the regional are barely over .500. That doesn’t mean it will be easy though. Louisville has a victory over Maryland this season and UMBC drew with the Terrapins. Then there’s Saint Louis, who could be a dark horse to make a run in the tournament. In fact, every team in this region has the ability to beat a team like Maryland. But what they don’t have is a coach like Sasho Cirovski. Maryland has become a power under Cirovski and he knows what it takes to get it done on this stage. If a team is going to knock off the Terrapins this early, they’re going to need all the cards to fall their way.


#4 Maryland vs. Wake Forest/UMBC

Wake Forest has scored a lot of goals this season. They have also been scored on a lot. The Demon Deacons are ninth in the country in scoring offense and 131st in goals against average. If you’re Wake Forest there are two positives you can take out of those numbers. First, the Demon Deacons are balanced offensively. Three players are tied for the team lead with six goals. Six others have scored at least two goals. Wake Forest relies on scoring a lot and if one of their key players is held in check, there are plenty of other options to get the job done. Second, Wake Forest played a very tough schedule. The Demon Deacons played eight NCAA Tournament teams this season, seven of whom earned national seeds. If you’re UMBC going into this game, you have to like your chances though. Wake Forest allowed opponents to hit their target on just over 47 percent of their shots. That bodes well for UMBC star forward Kay Banjo, eight goals, and playmaking midfielders Mamadou Kansaye and Geaton Caltabiano, four goals apiece. If UMBC’s four man senior backline of Oumar Ballo, Jordan Becker, Spencer Williams and Marquez Fernandez can limit Wake Forest’s scoring opportunities, their chances of winning will increase. Since Billy Heavner took over the goalkeeping duties during the ninth game of this season, UMBC has been a much better defensive team, but this will be his biggest test of the year.

Maryland has been arguably the most consistent team in college soccer. The Terrapins worst NCAA performance in the last ten years is an appearance in the third round. Maryland moved to the Big Ten this season and proceeded to win both the regular season and tournament championships. Now they will have their sights set on another National Championship. Whichever team they play first will be a familiar one. Maryland played UMBC back at the start of the year and Wake Forest is a former conference foe in the ACC. The Terrapins are a very balanced team and if they can keep playmakers Alex Shinsky and Tsubasa Endoh healthy alongside Mael Corboz, they can play with anybody. Wake Forest struggled against opponents of Maryland’s stature. UMBC on the other hand would enter this game with confidence should they beat Wake Forest. Maryland squared off against UMBC back at the beginning of September and the two teams played to a 0-0 draw. Maryland was without Endoh, but the previous result should give UMBC the confidence that they can play with Maryland. Give an underdog confidence and they become even more dangerous. Should these two meet again, look for Maryland to try and get on the board early and crush UMBC’s confidence. Maryland is clearly the better team in this matchup and it would take a near flawless performance from either Wake Forest or UMBC to knock off the Terrapins.


#13 Louisville vs. Saint Louis/Tulsa

Saint Louis might be the most dangerous team playing in the first round. The Billikens are a veteran team, 12 of their top 15 in minutes played are juniors or seniors, that is ready to show what they can do on the big stage. Saint Louis has one of the nations top scorers in Robert Kristo, but they are far from a one-dimensional team. The Billikens are 33rd in the country in scoring offense, getting contributions from players like midfielder Kinsley Bryce and defender Anthony Manning, five goals apiece, and also rank seventh in shutout percentage. Had it not been for a loss to Fordham in the A-10 Tournament, Saint Louis may have had a shot to be a national seed. But they did lose that game and they will open against a Tulsa team that they beat 1-0 to open the season. Tulsa has put together a solid season and are a balanced team, ranking in the top 75 of all the major statistical categories. Akeil Barrett and Ray Saari both have scored six goals for the Golden Hurricane, while Cameron Drackett and Austin Neil both have 11 points on the season. The key stat entering this game could be opponent shots on goal percentage. Saint Louis holds opponents under 40 percent. Tulsa’s is over 50 percent. Give a player like Kristo opportunities and he will make you pay. If Tulsa can’t improve on the number, Saint Louis has the edge in this matchup.

What team will show up for Louisville in the NCAA Tournament? Will it be the team that beat North Carolina, Maryland and Syracuse (twice), or will it be the team that tied Cornell and SIU Edwardsville and lost to NC State? That’s the big question. The Cardinals have some talented players like Ricardo Velezco, six goals and five assists, Tim Kubel, six goals and four assists, and Ben Strong, five goals and three assists, but they have failed to produce consistently this season. You can take stretches where the Cardinals score two plus goals per game over a four game stretch from October 10th to October 21st, and you can find a three game goalless stretch to follow it. You have to give the Cardinals credit for their schedule though, as Louisville played 11 NCAA Tournament teams this season. Saint Louis was one of those 11 teams and the Cardinals dropped a 1-0 game to the Billikens. If you’re a Cardinal fan, you would probably rather see Tulsa in this matchup. Tulsa is a much more average team that posts similar numbers to Louisville’s. If Saint Louis does advance, the Cardinals should be on upset alert. The Billikens have a lot of different playmaking options and given Louisville’s inconsistent play, that doesn’t bode well.


See all Men’s Soccer Breakdowns