Men's Soccer 2014 NCAA Tournament Semifinal Game Breakdowns

UCLA Men's College Soccer

Men's Soccer 2014 NCAA Tournament Semifinal Game Breakdowns


#16 Virginia vs. UMBC

This may not be the national semifinal we were expecting, but these are a couple of great teams that are playing amazing soccer right now. On this side of the bracket teams like Notre Dame, Georgetown, Syracuse, Indiana, Maryland, among others, were the favorites to reach the College Cup. But Virginia and UMBC had other ideas.

The Cavaliers started things out in the second round with a 3-1 victory over UNC Wilmington. After falling behind early, UVA rallied and put away the Seahawks with relative ease in the second half. With that win Virginia was rewarded with a trip to South Bend to take on top seeded Notre Dame. The Cavaliers and the Irish both played smart games and kept their shape defensively. Scoring chances were few and far between and it was not until the 82nd minute that Virginia sophomore Nicko Corriveau found the back of the net. Corriveau found the ball at his feet after a free kick into the box was redirected. He rifled in what proved to be the game winner. Once again Coach George Gelnovatch’s squad had to hit the road in the Elite Eight. This time it was off to Georgetown. Down 1-0, UVA once again waited until the end to make their move. With less than a minute left in regulation, Todd Wharton found the back of the net. The game went to penalties and Virginia advanced 5-4.

While Virginia certainly had a tough road to the College Cup, it was nothing compared to UMBC’s. As an unseeded team, the Retrievers had to play in the first round. They even had to play on the road in that opener against Wake Forest. But UMBC did what they have done all tournament, shutout a very good team. It took penalties for the Retrievers to advance past the Demon Deacons, but this team is fine by that. At Maryland and Louisville in the second and third rounds, UMBC managed to win 1-0 and not have to worry about penalties. Penalties came back into the picture in the quarterfinals contest at Creighton. After 110 minutes of scoreless soccer, it was senior Kay Banjo who netted the final penalty kick to send UMBC through to the College Cup.

The Retrievers have yet to give up a goal through four games in the NCAA Tournament. That is extremely impressive considering the competition. This should be a low scoring affair and as long as UMBC can keep it that, they will have a shot at reaching the final. But keeping Virginia off of the board will not be easy, especially if Eric Bird is back and healthy. Bird, Virginia’s leading scorer, has played just one minute in the NCAA Tournament. He is a game changer and the type of player that can crack the UMBC defense and give Virginia a few quality looks at goal. And whichever team can take advantage of those limited opportunities…or whoever gets lucky on penalty kicks after a nil-nil draw, will make it to the College Cup Finals.


#2 UCLA vs #11 Providence

The upsets on this side of the bracket were a little tougher to come by. In the end, #2 UCLA and #11 Providence made it to Cary, North Carolina. UCLA has been here before, the last time in 2011 where they lost in the national semifinals to North Carolina. For Providence, this is their first ever trip to the College Cup. Getting this far is certainly a big deal for the program, but the Friars are on a roll and their run may not end at the hands of the Bruins.

UCLA has had a tough go through their first three games. However, the draw has not been kind to the Bruins. In the second round they had to face San Diego, a team they lost to earlier in the year. But this time around they came away with a 2-1 victory. In the third round, UCLA played California, a team they struggled with during the regular season. Once again the Bruins made amends in the NCAA Tournament by knocking off the Golden Bears 3-2. In the quarterfinals, UCLA had their toughest game of them all. They were up 3-1 before two 78th minute goals by the Tar Heels tied the game at three. Eventually UCLA advanced after an epic shootout.

Providence made pretty easy work of Dartmouth in the second round and UC Irvine in the third round. They only beat UC Irvine 1-0, but they did outshoot the Anteaters 17-8. In East Lansing against Michigan State in the quarterfinals, the Friars gave up an early goal, but did not panic. Thanks to goals by Daniel Neustadter and Dominik Machado, the Friars took a 2-1 lead into halftime. Fabio Machado added a third goal in the 62nd minute and it was a good thing he did since Michigan State added a second goal just eight minutes later. But the Friars defense held.

Unlike the first semifinal, this one should see some goals. Markus Naglestad, Mac Steeves and Fabio Machado are all dangerous strikers. Cracking the UCLA defense is not always easy, but the Bruins have allowed six goals in their three NCAA Tournament games. They are susceptible to potent offenses like Providence’s. But, of course, it works the other way too. The Friars defense has looked pretty good throughout the tournament, but they did rank seventh in the Big East in goals-against average during the regular season. Midfielder Leo Stolz pulls the strings and can score plenty of goals, but the Bruins have a bevy of scoring threats. Keep an eye on Abu Danladi. The freshman forward recorded six shots, one goal and two assists against North Carolina. He could be the difference maker in what could be a fun, high scoring contest.


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