#12 Creighton vs. UMBC Men's Soccer 2014 NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals Game Breakdown


#12 Creighton vs. UMBC

It has been bad news for seeded teams in this bracket. The top two seeds, Indiana and Maryland, lost their tournament openers, and Louisville was upset in the third round. Creighton is now the last standing. The Blue Jays got to this point after beating Oregon State in the second round before topping a talented Xavier team in the third round. Waiting for them will be a UMBC team that is on fire. The Retrievers took down Wake Forest to open the tournament and followed that with a pair of upsets over Maryland and Louisville, respectively.

Given the current form of UMBC, this has potential upset written all over it. The Retrievers are 8-0-1 over their past nine games and have yet to allow a goal in this NCAA Tournament. Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Billy Heavner and a senior laden backline have been key in that. Since dropping a 2-0 contest to Navy on October 21st, UMBC has allowed just three goals. Heavner was forced to make just two saves in 110 minutes of action against Wake Forest, a testament to the play of the backline, and then turned in two outstanding performances in the second and third rounds, making four saves in each game. If UMBC can keep their run going, they will need another top-notch performance because Creighton features one of the nation’s top defensive units. Only once this season has Creighton allowed more than a goal in a game. Given that UMBC has scored just two goals in their three tournament victories, this has the makings of a low scoring game that could easily end up going to penalty kicks.

With both teams expected to turn in solid defensive performances, whichever team can find a spark offensively will have the best shot to win. Both teams have players capable of doing just that. Creighton has both the Big East offensive player of the year, Fabian Herbers, and the midfielder of the year, Timo Pitter, leading their team. The duo connected to score Creighton’s first goal in their 2-1 victory over Xavier last week and will be tough for UMBC to handle. UMBC has a 1-2 punch of their own in Kay Banjo, the America East offensive player of the year, and Mamadou Kansaye, the America East midfielder of the year. Both Banjo and Kansaye were in on UMBC’s goal in their 1-0 win over Louisville. Banjo earned a penalty after his long distance effort struck a Louisville defender’s hand and Kansaye stepped up to convert the ensuing penalty.

This deep in the tournament, experience plays a big role. Creighton has appeared in the National Semifinals twice in the past three seasons and that should bode well for their team. UMBC is a senior laden team coming off back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances and they have their sights set on making program history. With the game being played at Creighton, the Blue Jays would usually have a big advantage, as they went 12-2-0 there this season, but UMBC has been outstanding on the road to end this season, winning their last five road games. Both teams match up really well across the board, so don’t be surprised if this game comes down to the wire.


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