While the NCAA women’s national championship is up for grabs this weekend in San Diego, the men will be playing to earn a trip to the College Cup, the final four in Hoover, Alabama. The four quarter finals are taking place this weekend at stadiums all over the country, starting this evening when North Carolina hosts Indiana at 6pm Eastern.
UNC defeated the Hoosiers at this same juncture last year, on their way to winning the national title. Billy Schuler was the hero a year ago, but Schuler is playing for Greg Berhalter’s Hammarby in Sweden now, one of several key Tar Heels to move on after the 2011 title.
That explains why the defending champs are seeded only 9th this year. Regardless of rankings, Indiana come into this match with every confidence of moving on. Indiana have impressed in this tourney, knocking off number one seed Notre Dame, and hammering Xavier 4-1.
Meanwhile North Carolina needed penalty kicks to get past University of Maryland Baltimore County and edged FDU, another unseeded side, 1-0.
Saturday will see two more tickets punched to the College Cup. First # 3 seed Georgetown will take on visiting University of San Diego at 1pm, and then number 2 seed Maryland welcomes 10 seed Louisville at 5pm.
Like North Carolina, Georgetown have not yet played up their ranking, beating Syracuse on penalties and getting by Charlotte 1-0.
USD are the only unseeded team remaining in the tournament having knocked off fellow unranked side Cal State Northridge in the first round, before taking down the sixth ranked team in the nation, UCLA and # 11 Tulsa.
Saturday’s nightcap features the highest ranked remaining team, Maryland facing Louisville at home, at 5pm. Ranked as the second best team in the nation at the start of this tournament, Maryland survived a tough challenge from Brown in a 2-1 win, before dispatching outsiders Coastal Carolina 5-1. Loisville started off with a laugher, eliminating Winthorp 5-0, but the Cardinals had a much harder time of it in a 2-1 win over Northwestern.
UConn are the home side in Sunday’s lone game where they take on Creighton at 1pm. The closeness of this tournament is shown once again when Connecticut’s path to these quarterfinals is examined. The # 4 seed UConn has played two unseeded teams so far, escaping with two one goal victories. The Huskies opened with a 1-0 win over Northeastern and went on to top New Mexico 2-1.
Number 12 Creighton handled Washington 4-2 and then sent Akron packing. 5 seed Akron were expected to make a deep run in this tournament, so Creighton come into this showdown full of confidence.
The winners of this weekend’s games earn their way to the College Cup, where the semifinals take place on December 7 and the the champions will be crowned on December 9.