The delayed spring edition of the men’s Division I soccer tournament kicks off this week, with a field of 36 instead of 48.
Eight teams are seeded, and eight teams start on Thursday in the first round in four matchups down in North Carolina.
Preview the four first round matches below. All games take place on Thursday, April 29.
The Patriot League champs square off against the Atlantic Sun crowns, with the latter getting the good fortune of weather to advance. Down 2-0 in the ASUN title game against FGCU, a rainstorm washed out the game on April 17; a day later the two teams returned, with Jacksonville bouncing back with a 2-0 win, a fifth straight victory in a row. Freshman Olivier Correa has enjoyed a strong first season in college soccer, while Reed Davis is tied with Correa for the team lead with five goals apiece. David Coly’s been huge for American, returning to college soccer after visa issues led to being away from the game for a few seasons. American’s approach in goal will be worth watching in this one, as they’ve split time between senior Jake Agnew and talented freshman Lorenzo Gordon.
After opening the abbreviated Northeast Conference schedule with a loss back on March 1, St. Francis Brooklyn is unbeaten in the past seven games. That includes a penalty shootout win in the NEC qualifier, buckling down defensively at the right time. Freshman Ramchwy Saint Vil and senior Nicolas Molina have offered the most danger for a team that has shown the ability to win games at the right time. Both teams in this matchup are rolling, as the Panthers carry a five-game winning streak into the NCAA tournament. Paolo Gratton is one of the nation’s top scorers, finding the back of the net 11 times, while freshman Logan Farrington offering five goals and four assists.
Covid-19 issues nearly derailed Omaha’s chances of making it here; they didn’t have a chance to line up against Denver, with four games canceled or postponed at various points during the season. The Pioneers were originally declared winners of the Summit League, but then had to withdraw due to continued issues. Omaha certainly picked up enough results to warrant themselves a spot here, and will be troublesome for Greensboro – even if the Southern Conference tournament winners get to host the game. Hugo Kametani and Nil Ayats have been the key focal points for Omaha, combining for 11 goals and five assists. UNCG have a quality attacking duo of their own in Mani Austmann and Theo Collomb. The hosts certainly have the advantage, though Omaha have every chance of securing the win if they can put in the requisite performance.
An impressive stretch in the MAAC tournament punched Monmouth’s tickets, as they defeated the top three seeds. Clutch performances from Julian Gomez played a massive role, while Monmouth’s scored 16 goals and conceded just eight. An experienced Bowling Green awaits, as Chris Sullivan and Jacob Erlandson provide senior leadership for the MAC champions. They also played a relatively challenging schedule, battling it out with Kentucky and Marshall earlier in the season, in conjunction with their conference slate. The team’s defensive record, anchored by Erlandson, has been strong, with just one goal conceded in the past three games.