Navy beats Army, UCSB draws 12,000 as regular season comes to a close
Friday night’s Army Navy Cup appeared to be heading to a frustrating draw for the Navy Midshipman when junior defender Joseph Greenspan came up with a 106th minute goal to give the Mids their 9th conference win of the season in front of 7,416 fans at PPL Park, the Philadelphia Union’s home field in Chester, Pa. You can see highlights of the match HERE.
Navy dominated possession and had several chances before Greenspan’s winner, including a rebound goal that would have won it in regulation called back for an offsides. With the win, Navy finished their Patriot League slate with a 9-0-0 record, one of only three Division 1 teams to not lose or tie in conference play this year – Illinois Chicago (7-0-0) and Denver (6-0-0) were the other programs with perfect conference runs. Five other teams – UMBC (5-0-2), UConn (4-0-4), St. Louis (6-0-2), UCSB (7-0-3) and Seattle (7-0-3) finished their conference slate unbeaten.
UC Santa Barbara capped their unbeaten conference season in grand fashion on Saturday, beating arch rival Cal Poly 2-0 in front of 12,085 fans, the largest crowd of the season and the fifth largest crowd ever. Over the last two seasons, UCSB-Cal Poly fixture occupies the top four single game attendance spots in Division-I men’s soccer, NCAA Tournament included.
Washington rode a successful weekend capped by an overtime golden goal by freshman forward Mason Robertson, who also scored the game-winner to beat Stanford two days earlier, to take over the standings in the Pac 12. With one game remaining – the Pac-12 doesn’t have a tournament – the Dawgs are a point clear of California and two points clear of UCLA.
Maryland and Notre Dame finished the ACC regular season even on points, but the Terps earned the No. 1 seed in this week’s tournament. Georgetown also finished even on points with Marquette in the Big East after Xavier dropped a game 2-1 to Butler that could have given them the regular season title. Marquette’s loss to last place DePaul kept them from capturing the inaugural title for the new Big East themselves. The win was the first of the season in conference for DePaul, but it wasn’t the only stunning result from week 11.
Pitt finished their nightmare season with a 2-0 loss to Notre Dame to finish 0-9-2 in their first ACC season but they took out their frustrations on Howard earlier in the week with a 9-0 win for their only victory of the season to tie the program record for most goals in a game. The offensive outburst was even more unlikely when considering the Panthers scored just four goals in 15 other games this season and were shut out 12 times.
Chris Davis registered a hat trick for Pitt, but his performance barely registered on the national scene with so many games of significance as the regular season closed in most conferences and some tournaments got underway.
As postseason performances go, Kene Eze’s four goals to pace Rutgers in an American Athletic conference victory over Cincinnati was as good as it gets, but his assist to set up Mael Corboz’s game-winning goal to beat Louisville and keep the Scarlet Knights season alive was possibly even more critical.
UConn freshman forward Cyle Larin continued to make a name for himself with his brace that helped pace a 5-0 win over SMU that earned the Huskies a trip to the first ever American Athletic conference championship semifinal in Frisco, Texas. Larin, a Brampton, Ontario native, has 10 goals in his rookie campaign. Toyota Stadium, home to FC Dallas, will be one of two Major League Soccer venues hosting tournaments this weekend. PPL Park in Chester will host the Big East this weekend.
Coastal Carolina forward Ricky Garbonzo also had a productive offensive week with four goals in a pair of victories for the Chanticleers (including this free kick), but Harrison Shipp’s performance might be the final push he needs to capture the Hermann Trophy. The senior Notre Dame midfielder scored game-winners to beat Michigan State and Pittsburgh in his two final regular season matches. He leads the Irish with 8 goals and 7 assists on the season, both career highs.
Washington defender Michael Harris again showed that he’s more than just a one-trick pony with a killer flip throw. He delivered both assists in the Dawgs win over California and went the full 90 in their win over Stanford.
Looking ahead to the week in front of us, conference tournaments and the final games in Pac 12 play will be worth keeping an eye on as teams try to secure their spots in the NCAA tournament.