November 25, 2013

NCAA Sectional review: Northeast and Midwest

By Ryan Harmanis, D3soccer.com

Rutgers-Camden celebrates their national quarterfinal victory on Sunday.
Rutgers-Camden athletics photo.

After an exhilarating weekend of play, the 2013 Final Four is set: #2 Rutgers-Camden, #3 Messiah, #6 Loras and Williams will head to San Antonio only two wins away from the title. Rutgers-Camden is the only new face, as the other three are returning after appearances in 2012. Let’s take a brief look at this weekend’s games and how each team made it to the Final Four.

Northeast Region

Rutgers-Camden 3, York (Pa.) 1

Saturday’s opening match was the day’s only top-10 matchup, and lived up to its billing as Rutgers-Camden upended #7 York (Pa.) 3–1. The game was a thrilling back-and-forth affair, and the teams matched one another shot-for-shot (16 each). York started more quickly but was hit twice in five minutes at the end of the first half as Camden’s offense took off. A third goal just after the break put the game out of reach, and York will be left to curse missed opportunities and a cruel NCAA committee that forced them to face back-to-back top-5 teams.

Montclair State 1, Rochester 0

Montclair State took advantage of an early goal and a first-half red card to upend Rochester 1–0 and set up an all-NJAC Elite 8 rematch with Camden. Sophomore Lucas Terci scored his 11th goal of the season early in the first half off a long pass from freshman Mike Olla. The quick break should have warned Rochester, but the Yellow Jackets would be caught out again. This time, they were punished more severely as their goalkeeper took down a Montclair attacker and received a red card late in the first half. As so often happens, Rochester actually improved when down to 10 men and controlled the second half. Montclair’s defense stood tall and goalkeeper Kevin Lynch made eight total saves as the Red Hawks earned a third straight trip to the Elite 8 and a second showdown with Rutgers-Camden.

Rutgers-Camden 2, Montclair State 1

Sunday’s second conference rematch pitted Rutgers-Camden against a Montclair State team that statistically outplayed the Scarlet Raptors in a 0–0 midseason draw. That game included an incredible 53 total shots and Sunday saw much of the same in an open game. Once again, Camden’s quick strike offense proved to be the difference as two goals in the first 10 minutes led to a 2–1 victory and a spot in the Final Four. 

The real story to Rutgers-Camden’s season has been its ability to blitz the opposition with multiple goals. According to Dr. Jay Martin of Ohio Wesleyan, a team is most vulnerable immediately after scoring or conceding a goal. Camden has used this mental soft spot in opponents to devastating effect, scoring twice in a five-minute span on 11 separate occasions prior to the Elite 8. Montclair became the 12th victim as Camden came out firing with goals from Connor Huff and Mike Ryan (his 21st) in the fourth and seventh minutes of play. Despite increasing the pressure in the second half and halving the deficit through a Lucas Terci penalty, the Red Hawks never recovered. Rutgers-Camden is headed to San Antonio as the only undefeated team remaining in 2013.

Midwest Region

Loras 2, Westminster (Mo.) 0

Westminster was one of the biggest stories of the opening weekend, taking out the MIAC tournament (Carleton) and regular-season (Gustavus Adolphus) champions back-to-back. Their incredible run was bound to end at some point, and came to a screeching halt as Loras scored once in each half to win 2–0. Despite eight regular-season losses, Westminster fought bravely and managed 13 shots, but could not handle the DuHawks’ depth or balanced offense for 90 minutes.

Trinity (Tx.) 2, Wartburg 1 (2OT)

Trinity traveled to Iowa boasting one of the nation’s top defenses, but many wondered how the Texans would handle freezing weather conditions. Those fears were confirmed as Wartburg scored just seven minutes in and created thoughts of an incredible third conference rematch in the Elite 8. The Tigers would have none of it, peppering Wartburg’s goal with 21 shots in a 2–1 overtime win. Taking control, Trinity leveled on a penalty kick in the second half before scoring the game-winner with less than four minutes left in the second overtime. Because of his consistent production (career: 40g, 38a), it seems as though Trinity senior Yuri Ribiero has been playing forever and his 40th goal would be his biggest to get Trinity to its first Elite 8 since 2008. 

Loras 2, Trinity (Tx.) 1

Loras has followed Messiah’s blueprint, using numerous players to stay fresh and wear down opponents. This strategy made them heavy favorites in the final match of an exciting weekend. However, the Tigers entered the game with the talent, history and confidence to win, knowing that victory would let them return home for the Final Four. Trinity started fast, taking the lead on Tom Carwile’s unassisted goal nine minutes in. Although the first half played out evenly, the DuHawks depth eventually began to tell and Loras used a strong second half to win 2–1 and earn a return trip to the Final Four.

The game was extremely physical, and Trinity set the tone with 10 fouls in the first half alone. While Loras became the aggressor in the second half (14 fouls), the most important violation came from the Tigers. Already trailing 2–1, Trinity’s task become exponentially more difficult as goal-scorer Carwile saw red and the Tigers were forced to chase the game down to 10 men. Loras chose to pack it in down the stretch, gifting Trinity control and opportunities to draw level. The DuHawks did just enough, with Mike Pizzello’s goal proving the difference. Loras will fly to Texas looking to finally reach the summit and win the program’s first national championship in its fourth Final Four appearance.

No contests today.
No contests today.
No contests today.