December 12, 2007

College Cup field finalized

Men's soccer's final four begins Friday at SAS.

Tim Candon, Sports Editor - The Cary News

Some team is going to win its first ever NCAA men's soccer national championship this weekend at SAS Soccer Park.

The four teams coming to Cary for the College Cup have a combined five appearances in soccer's final four, and none of them has ever played in the championship game.

The first semifinal features ACC foes No. 11 Virginia Tech and No. 2 Wake Forest at 5 p.m. Their regular-season meeting Oct. 5 ended with a double-overtime 3-3 draw.

Virginia Tech (14-3-5) had never advanced beyond the second round of the NCAA tournament until this year. Wake Forest (20-2-2) is returning to the College Cup for the second straight season and is the only team to have appeared at this stage before. Last year, the Demon Deacons lost 4-3 on penalty kicks to eventual national champion UC-Santa Barbara in the semifinals.

The Hokies come to Cary having won all three of their tournament games by one goal. Saturday afternoon, they played their first road game of the tournament and beat third-seeded Connecticut 1-0 in Storrs, Conn., thanks to a goal by Patrick Nyarko.

A few hours later, Wake Forest's Austin da Luz scored the game-winning goal in sudden death in Winston-Salem against Notre Dame to secure the Deacons' 1-0 win.

The other semifinal features a pair of College Cup first-timers. Unseeded Massachusetts will face No. 5 Ohio State at 7 p.m.

UMass (17-7-1), the Atlantic-10 champion, has won three of its four NCAA tournament games by one goal, including a 2-1 win over No. 1 Boston College in the second round on Nov. 28.

The Minutemen eliminated fellow upstart Illinois-Chicago 2-1 Sunday in Amherst, Mass., thanks to Mike DeSantis' 80th-minute goal.

Since starting the season 2-4, UMass has gone 15-3-1 and comes to Cary having won six in a row and nine of 11.

Ohio State (16-3-5) scored four goals in a span of 12 minutes in the second half Sunday and defeated Bradley 4-0 to earn its way to the College Cup.

The Buckeyes, the Big Ten champion, are unbeaten in their last 14 games (11-0-3) and have outscored their tournament opponents 9-3.

"It's an honor to represent the university in the semifinals at the NCAA championship," Ohio State forward Xavier Balc said Sunday in Columbus, Ohio, after the Buckeyes' win. "To walk out as one of the top four teams in the nation with your school's name painted on the field is incredible."
Contact Tim Candon at 460-2606 or