Men's Soccer 2014 NCAA Tournament #3 Michigan State / #11 Providence Region 3rd Round Game Breakdowns


On one side of the regional, you have two schools looking to build off very successful tournament runs in 2013. On the other are two schools looking to make history. Michigan State and Washington both made it to the Elite Eight last season and have their sights set on making it back-to-back appearances on that stage. Neither Providence or UC Irvine have ever made it past the third round in an NCAA Tournament, but one will do just that this season. All four teams have something to prove on this stage, which sets up for some exciting matchups.


#3 Michigan State vs. #14 Washington

Washington boasts one of the nation’s top scoring offenses, but the Huskies were held in check in the second round, needing penalties to beat Furman. That doesn’t bode well for Washington because Michigan State is even better defensively. The Spartans are in the top ten nationally in shutout percentage and save percentage and rank tenth in goals against average. Michigan State advanced to the third round with a 1-0 victory over Oakland, their 13th shutout of the season, and has a backline with plenty of experience. Both junior goalkeeper Zach Bennett and senior center back Ryan Keener have started for the Spartans since their freshman years and Keener’s partner in the middle, Zach Carroll, has been a defensive stalwart for MSU since he transferred in from Virginia at the beginning of the season.

The two schools met for an exhibition game before the start of the season and Washington came out on top. If they are to do that again, it will be because of the play of their midfield and forwards. The Huskies have three high scoring forwards, Darwin Jones, eight goals, Mason Robertson, seven goals, and Josh Heard, seven goals that will be a challenge for MSU. Midfielders Christian Roldon and James Moberg, six assists, provide solid support. If Michigan State can win the battle in the midfield, they will be in great shape to win the game. The Spartans center midfield duo of Jay Chapman, the Big Ten Midfielder of the Year, and Fatai Alashe certainly has the potential to do that. Michigan State also has a forward duo of Adam Montague and Tim Kreutz that are capable of scoring plenty of goals themselves. Carroll is actually Michigan State’s leading scorer with five goals, but Montague and Kreutz will play key roles if the Spartans want to return to the Elite Eight. They were both big parts of last year’s NCAA Tournament run and are both due for a goal. After Washington’s performance against Furman, Michigan State looks to have a great shot in this one. Look for the Spartans to win a low scoring game, likely 1-0.


#11 Providence vs. UC Irvine

UC Irvine lived up to the potential they showed at the beginning of the season in the second round with a huge overtime victory over Stanford. The Cardinal had been one of the nations best teams this season and had a good shot a deep tournament run. Now the Anteaters will try to continue their run against a Providence team that is very similar to Stanford. Both teams are led by their scoring offense. The Cardinal boasted a better defense, but Providence makes up for it with a more potent attack. Four different players have scored at least five goals for the Friars, led by Markus Naglestad and Mac Steeves with nine goals apiece.

They will be a tough test for the Anteaters defense. UC Irvine doesn’t feature a potent scoring offense or a top-notch defense, but they are a solid team. So far in the tournament, the Anteaters defense has held two high scoring offenses in check and has shown the ability to put the ball in the net when it matters. The Friars are the favorites in this one, but look for UC Irvine to make it a close game.


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