PKs, golden goals highlight opening rounds of NCAA tournament


stanfordwinsThe NCAA men’s soccer tournament opened play on Thursday with a host of games requiring extra time and penalty kicks to decide a winner. The last game of the night was probably the most dramatic of all with Stanford scoring with 17 seconds remaining to level the score with Loyola Marymount and winning a penalty shootout after two overtime periods failed to produce a winner.

The Stanford game was one of five opening round matches that went to PKs and one of six in the opening weekend to end there. Elon advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history after beating Clemson on penalties, George Mason beat William & Mary from the spot and Louisville outlasted Denver while Providence won their second penalty shootout in a week in Philadelphia beating Penn after bettering Georgetown in the Big East semifinal at PPL Park. UConn needed penalties to knock off 16 seed UMBC in the second round.

The Retrievers were one of three seeded teams bounced from the tournament in the second round – Stanford beat 15 seed CSU Northridge and Coastal Carolina knocked out 13 seed Charlotte in the only other second round upsets. The opening round saw Seattle win a Division 1 tournament game for the first time in any sport since 1964 when they upset Creighton in the snow in Omaha 2-1, Bradley beat Northwestern 3-2 in overtime and Navy trounce VCU 3-0. All three opening round cinderellas were bounced by higher seeds in the second round: 2nd seed Washington knocked out Seattle 4-2, 4th-seeded California beat Bradley 3-1 and 14 seed Wake Forest was one goal better than Navy in a 2-1 win.

No. 1 overall seed UCLA had little trouble advancing in their second round match, beating Elon 4-0 in what is their biggest margin of victory to date. Notre Dame’s maestro midfielder Harrison Shipp continued to state his case for player of the year with a brace (you can see one of the goals HERE) in the 3rd seeded Irish’s 4-0 victory over Wisconsin and Georgetown had little trouble holding off Old Dominion in a 3-0 win for the sixth seeded Hoyas. The nail-biters of round two came in overtime games that saw 9th seed Marquette edge Akron, which knocked out defending champ Indiana in the first round, 1-0, and 11 seed Michigan State beat a Louisville team that failed to register a goal in their last four games of the season.

As individual accolades go, Stanford goalkeeper Drew Hutchins captured plenty of attention for his performance in the two dramatic wins for the Cardinal. The senior from Morrisville, Pa., delivered the assist on the game-tying goal in the Loyola Marymount game, saved three goals in the penalty shootout and converted his own attempt in a 3-2 penalty kick win then made the only save he had to make in a clean sheet against Cal State Northridge. Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Cristian Roldan continued his impressive rookie season delivering a goal and an assist in the Dawgs 4-2 win over Seattle. Last year’s high school player of the year now has seven goals in his freshman campaign.

Junior midfielder Leo Stolz recorded the most assists by a UCLA Bruin in tournament play since 2002 when he recorded three assists in their 4-0 win over Elon on Sunday. Bradley forward Wojciech Wojcik was a big reason why the Braves were able to pull off the upset over Northwestern. The senior scored a pair of goals, including the game winner, and recorded an assist in the Northwestern game and scored another goal in the 3-1 loss to Cal to give him 6 goals and 14 assists for the year. Cal midfielder Alec Sundly scored twice in that Bradley game and assisted on Steve Birnbaum’s goal.

The Sweet 16 picks up play on Sunday with No. 1 overall seed UCLA taking on UConn, Marquette facing Virginia, Notre Dame and Wake Forest, Michigan State and Georgetown, Maryland and UC Irvine, New Mexico and Penn State, Stanford and Washington and Coastal Carolina taking on California.

To keep tabs on all the action, check out NCAA’s interactive bracket and follow me on Twitter at @mattralphrc.

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