Men's Soccer 2013 NCAA Tournament #4 California / #13 Charlotte Regional Breakdown

#4 California / #13 Charlotte Regional Breakdown

With Charlotte, California, Coastal Carolina and Northwestern, there is a lot of tournament history in this group. It was only two years ago that the 49ers were in the finals. California reached the quarterfinals during their last appearance in 2010. Coastal Carolina has been a regular since 2010, although they have yet to live up to their potential during tournament time. And last season the Wildcats were one of the surprise teams, making it to the third round. Back in 2008 Northwestern made an even better run.


#13 Charlotte vs. Coastal Carolina/East Tennessee State

Coastal Carolina sports another potent offense, led by Ricky Garbanzo and Pedro Ribeiro. Garbanzo, a junior striker, found the back of the net a dozen times. Ribeiro scored 11 goals and added six assists. Justin Portillo has been a great setup man for the Chanticleers and dished out nine assists this year. The emergence of freshman Sergio Camargo and sophomore Jakub Stourac has really boosted the Chanticleers offensive production. East Tennessee State has had a good year and boasts wins over UAB, Kentucky and Wofford, but Coastal Carolina is on a different level. Senior goalie Ryan Coulter has had some great games, but he will be busy against Coastal Carolina’s strikers and midfielders.

Back in the middle of October it looked like Charlotte would not even make the NCAA Tournament. They were coming off of back-to-back 3-2 losses and only had four wins in a dozen tries. Sitting at 4-5-3, the 49ers were in deep trouble. But then Charlotte reeled off eight wins in a row and counting. Sophomore Kyle Parker and junior Giuseppe Gentile have worked well together during that run and they combined to score 19 goals during the regular season. While Charlotte did score 20 goals during that eight game stretch, it was the play of the defense that made the bigger difference. Only two goals have been conceded since 10/13 and keeper Klay Davis looks absolutely unbeatable at times. Charlotte has the talent to get back to the final, but this time it would not be a surprise.


#4 California vs. Northwestern/Bradley

Northwestern started the season very strong and climbed up in the rankings. However, things started going bad in October and Northwestern won just two of their final ten regular season games…and those were against Northern Illinois and Loyola (IL). The good news is that the Wildcats did win another game in the Big Ten Tournament against a good Wisconsin team. The better news is that this team still has Joey Calistri up top, Chris Ritter in the midfield and Tyler Miller between the posts. The bad run by Northwestern started on October 2nd against none other than Bradley. Northwestern can look for revenge, while the Braves will have the confidence that they can go to Evanston and come away with a win. The first time these two teams played, which was in Peoria, freshman striker Christian Okeke netted two goals. Okeke and seniors Alon Badat and Wojciech Wojcik lead a pretty potent attack. Brian Billings has had a good senior season in goal, but the Braves defense has disappeared at times.

Northwestern or Bradley will get to take a trip out West to battle a California squad that is finally looking beatable. The Golden Bears had not lost a game until 10/25. Including that loss to San Diego, Cal has lost four of their last six contests. And those two wins came against Oregon State and San Diego State. Sure the Pac-12 is tough and there is no shame in losing to UCLA, or at Washington and Stanford, but the Golden Bears did not look like the same team that beat Georgetown, Maryland and UCLA earlier in the year. Coach Kevin Grimes has enough talent to return to form though. Steve Birnbaum is one of the best defenders in the nation and Alec Sundly and Seth Casiple lead an experienced midfield. With a top four seed, California can stay home until Philadelphia and that is huge in a region that consists of many east coast teams.


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