Men's Soccer 2014 NCAA Tournament #12 Creighton / #13 Louisville Region 3rd Round Game Breakdowns


This region has been hit hard with upsets thus far. Both Maryland, the four seed nationally, and Indiana, the five seed, were upset in the second round. There is a great chance that there are more upsets to come. Both Xavier and UMBC are playing great soccer at the moment and both have legitimate chances to knock off their higher ranked opponents. When playing up to their potential, both Creighton and Louisville are among the nations best teams, but they both have been a bit inconsistent. Louisville was great in big games this season, but struggled against some of their lesser opponents. Creighton struggled to score against some of their nationally ranked opponents this year. Both of those trends play right into the hands of UMBC and Xavier, respectively, and should put both Louisville and Creighton on upset alert.


#12 Creighton vs. Xavier

The Big East’s first and second place finishers will square off in this Sweet 16 matchup. Xavier advanced to this stage with a pair of 2-1 victories, one in double overtime against Monmouth and the other over the number five seed Indiana Hoosiers, while Creighton beat Oregon State 1-0 after receiving a first round bye. The two schools squared off once in the regular season, a game that finished in a 1-1 draw. Expect this game to be low scoring as well. Both teams are very sound defensively. Creighton ranks in the top ten nationally in goals against average and shutout percentage and Xavier ranks in the top 25 in the same categories. In the last meeting, Creighton and Xavier’s goalkeepers were forced to make just three and four saves, respectively. Scoring chances will likely be at a premium and whichever team can make the most out of their couple chances will advance. Xavier has seen midfielders Will Walker, two goals, and Alex Ridsdale, goal and an assist, play very well so far during the NCAA Tournament and they will need another big performance out of the duo if the Musketeers can pull this one off.

Creighton has both the Big East Offensive Player of the Year, Fabian Herbers, and the midfielder of the year, Timo Pitter, on their team and they have played big roles in the Blue Jays success this season. The matchup of Walker and Pitter should be the one to watch. Whichever team can win the midfield battle will have a significant advantage in this game. Xavier has a potential x-factor in Matt Vasquenza though. The freshman forward has played in all 22 of Xavier’s games this season, starting 16 of them, but he has been most effective coming off the bench. Vasquenza has scored three of his team-high seven goals in his six substitute appearances. He scored the lone goal in the Creighton game as a substitute and also scored the opener in the win over Indiana as a sub. The Musketeers are 6-0-1 when Vasquenza scores and should he find the net again, Xavier has a great shot at pulling off the upset.


#13 Louisville vs. UMBC

UMBC is coming off a huge upset over in-state foe Maryland and they will look to ride that momentum into their meeting with Louisville. The Retrievers have won their last eight contests and feature a balanced scoring attack that has proven to be a tough task to defend. Louisville has struggled with consistency, but like UMBC, they seem to have put it together at the right time. The Cardinals are 3-1 in their last four matches with wins over nationally ranked Syracuse, North Carolina and Saint Louis. Their lone loss came in double overtime against Clemson in the ACC Tournament championship. Neither team has posted defensive numbers, but those units will be key in this game. Both teams have a big time goal scorer up top and a plethora of talented midfielders. Kay Banjo, eight goals and five assists, has led UMBC this season and Mamadou Kansaye, Geotan Caltabiano and Malcolm Harris are behind him in the midfield. Kansaye and Caltabiano both are tied for second on the team with four goals apiece, while Harris has a pair of goals, including the game winner against Maryland.

The Cardinals counter with forward Ricardo Velazco, six goals and five assists, and the midfield trio of Tim Kubel, seven goals and five assists, Ben Strong, five goals and four assists, and Andrew Brody, three goals and four assists. Stopping either team’s attack will be tough, but UMBC could find themselves with an upper hand in that battle. Sophomore goalkeeper Billy Heavner became the Retrievers goalkeeper midway through the season and has started the last 13 games for UMBC. Over his last eight starts, he has allowed just three goals. That bodes well for UMBC’s chances in this one. Add in the fact that all four starting defenders are seniors with at least three years of starting experience and an upset seems like a real possibility.  


See all Men’s Soccer Breakdowns