Men's NCAA Tournament Round Two Recap

Men's NCAA Tournament Round Two Recap
by Tom Hindle
November 21, 2022

The second round of the men’s NCAA Tournament was predictably hectic. The bracket had churned out some interesting matchups, with ample potential for sedded teams to go home early. And the contests delivered on that promise. The no. 1 team was knocked out early, a perennial power fell, while an outside favorite blew a 2-0 lead. Here’s a look at each match.

Cornell Edges Maryland, 2-1

It looked, for 83 minutes, as if no one would score. It was blustery and sharp in Ithaca, New York, where Maryland and Cornell were locked for the majority of proceedings. Passages of play were at a premium, the two sides settling for speculative strikes down field. But then, in the 84th minute, Cornell’s Danny Lokko gambled on one of those lofted passes, and swept a loose ball over the head of Niklas Neumann from 25 yards out. He added another three minutes later, creating a glimmer of space before wrapping a shot around two defenders and into the bottom corner. There was some life to be found from the Terps. Albi Ndrenika caught a volley sweetly from the edge of the box, bringing Maryland back within one with less than three minutes to play. But a final chance never really came, and in the Ithaca wind, Cornell blustered its way to a win.

Semmle Saves And Scores to Send Marshall Past Virginia On Penalties

Oliver Semmle took his spot kick well, leading off Marshall in its penalty shootout against Virginia with a resounding thump into the corner. He then strolled to the goal line, spread his arms, and dove to parry away Virginia’s first attempt. And in that sequence — those short 45 seconds — Semmle lifted the Thundering Herd to an upset win over Virginia. The two sides played a rather open game, a contest marked by flowing soccer and chances aplenty. And when Phil Horton put the Cavaliers up 1-0 in the first half, it appeared that there might be more to come. But Marshall hung on, and grabbed one of its own in the 68th minute, with Matthew Bell applying the finishing touch after a goal line scramble. After neither side could find a second, penalty kicks were used to solve matters. And there, Semmle did his part. Milo Josef slotted the winning spot kick home, sealing things. But it was his goalkeeper that had set everything up.

Pittsburgh Converts Twice From The Penalty Spot to Bury Akron, 3-0

There are two narratives that can be told from Pitt’s clash against Akron Sunday afternoon. One is that of a rampant Akron side that couldn’t quite convert in the final third — and then hurt by some unagreeable officiating. The other is that of a Pitt team that judged its game plan perfectly, soaking up pressure and hitting on the break. The result is somewhere in between. Akron can certainly feel aggrieved by one of the two penalties it conceded. But that Pitt executed well is not up for debate. The Panthers were outshot on the day, but made the most of their chances. Meanwhile, Akron, down two of its best attacking players, lacked the crucial quality in front of goal to capitalize on its 19 shots. And in these games, it’s the chances missed that so often define seasons.

Western Michigan Tallies Second Straight Upset, Beats Lipscomb, 1-0

While Western Michigan was perhaps a trendy upset pick against Louisville in the first round of NCAA Tournament play, a win against No. 9 seeded Lipscomb seemed far less likely. But the Broncos delivered all the same. Daniel Nimick leaped over two defenders to nod home from a corner, putting Western Michigan up 1-0. And they defended from there, with goalkeeper Hunter Morse tallying seven saves — including a crucial stop off a corner in the last minute. The Broncos will meet the winner of Oregon State and Portland next. And if they win that one, the “upset” label might just have to be dropped.

Johnson’s Overtime Winner Sends Syracuse Past Penn, 2-1

Penn was never going to make this contest easy for Syracuse. The Quakers aren’t the most attacking of teams, but they have a real penchant for being tricky to beat — an organized, efficient side. So a tight game like this was perhaps the exact contest Penn would have wanted. Both teams tallied a goal in regulation time, with Nate Opoku’s finish from close range canceling out Nick Schimbeno’s header. Chances were scarce for the remainder of proceedings. Levonte Johnson had the only really convincing look of extra time play, sneaking in at the back post to lash home. And even though Penn got the game it wanted, an equalizer never came.

Duke Uses Fast Start to Bury Denver, 3-1

Duke always needed a good opening few minutes here. The Blue Devils crashed out of the ACC Tournament early as their once rampant attack disappeared. And with no games to prepare between that loss and this tournament clash, regaining some of that form was crucial. And regain it they did. Peter Stroud scored within the first 10 minutes and Shak Mohammed added a second within 15, giving Duke enough of a platform to get past a tricky Denver side. The Pioneers didn’t go down easily, though. They dragged a goal back shortly before half time, with Holger Olsson converting from the spot. But the Blue Devils found a third, with Kamran Acito nodding home off an angled cross. And for a side that had lost its attack, that goal was more than enough.

Wittenbrink’s Strike Leads Indiana Past Saint Louis, 1-0

Ryan Wittenbrink has been crucial to Indiana’s success of late. And he showed exactly why Sunday afternoon. The midfielder scored the only goal in an otherwise drab contest, a fine curled shot at the end of a mazy run in the St. Louis box. It’s in these games that Wittenbrink seems to thrive. Here was a contest marked by its lack of chances, its dearth of opportunities. And when presented with four defenders and a tough angle, Wittenbrink created a moment. And on the back of a defensive showing that saw Saint Louis go without a shot on target, that moment was all Indiana needed.

Kentucky Thrashes USF, 4-0

This wasn’t supposed to be so easy for Kentucky. With star striker Eythor Bjorgolfsson suspended, the Wildcats appeared to be shorthanded. But any fears of a lapse in attacking quality were soon quelled. They scored in the 27th minute and had a few chances to add another in the first half. And in the second, opportunities turned into goals, with three coming in a 15 minute burst to put Kentucky up 4-0. All four were well worked things, the work of an attack in full flow — even without its best finisher. And Bjorgolfsson is back, they might be even better.

UNCG(m) Needs Penalties to Beat Resilient Ohio State

UNCG appeared to have things sorted. It was the 79th minute and the Spartans were well in control over a pesky Ohio State. But their 1-0 lead was precarious. And as it turned out, it wouldn’t be enough. Parker Grinstead met Deylen Vellios’ cross in stride, guiding it into the bottom corner to knot the game at 1-1. Neither side would score again, sending the game to a penalty shootout. It was equally tight, with sudden death needed to settle things. Maddox Mallery played hero, smashing in the winner and sending his team into raptures. It was a fittingly tight end to a game that lost control, and another win to add to a burgeoning season for UNCG. Perhaps now it’s time to dream.

Stanford Smashes High Point, 6-2

After it beat North Carolina in the first round of tournament play, nothing seemed impossible for High Point. Such was the conviction in the Panthers' win that even a victory against top 10 Stanford didn't seem too far fetched. But the Cardinal started strong, and High Point simply couldn't keep up. Carlo Agostinelli scored in the third minute. He added another in the 17th. After 35, when Keegan Hughes fired home, it was 4-0. Here was a contest where High Point never really found a foothold, chasing a dominant team around the pitch. And though there was some joy to be found in the shape of two well-taken goals, Stanford showed exactly why it is among the title favorites. Meanwhile, High Point looked every bit a team with work to do.

Vermont Roars Back to Beat SMU, 3-2

2-0 down at half time to a seeded SMU team, it appeared that Vermont’s memorable season might be done early. The Catamounts had spent most of the first half struggling for a foothold, with Nathan Silveira keeping the game from getting out of hand on a few separate occasions. And after the break, it didn’t appear that a comeback was imminent. There were chances — a shot here, a set piece there — but nothing found the back of the net. Then, in the 65th minute, a lifeline. Max Murray found the back of the net, and the energy changed. Every Catamount pass had more zip, every dribble had more purpose. The second goal came 15 minutes later, with Murray scoring again. Garrett Lillie provided the eventual winner, his shot taking a glance off a SMU defender as it curved into the corner — with the Vermont bench running onto the pitch in celebration.

Jeffus’ Extra Time Winner Leads Tulsa Past Georgetown, 1-0

Luke Jeffus hit the ball very hard. The Tulsa forward hat floated into open space just inside the box when the pass came. And with the far corner of the goal open, Jeffus struck through the ball, sending it fizzing into the bottom corner. It was a wonderful finish and the only goal in a captivating contest between Tulsa and Georgetown. There was a lot to like about this game, a meeting of two relatively young teams with future success likely. And at times, the youth of both sides showed. There were some stray passes and nervy moments. Neither side scored in regulation, so extra time was needed to settle things. And there, Jeffus simply hit the ball very hard.

Creighton Upsets Washington, 3-1

For 83 minutes, Washington kept Creighton forward Duncan McGuire relatively quiet. The striker provided an assist for the Bluejays equalizer, but the nation’s leading goalscorer hadn’t been gifted a clear look on goal. And when he got one — in the 84th — he took the chance. The Bluejays hit on the break, with McGuire running off the shoulder of Washington’s center back. He received the pass in stride, and slotted it past the oncoming keeper. He added a second less than two minutes later, streaking down the center of the pitch, evading two defenders and clipping a shot in off the near post. His quickfire double sent the Bluejays into the round of 16, leaving no. 1 Washington shocked. The Huskies had been outplayed here, with Creighton putting together a clinical performance — one that got the most out of its best player in the big moments.

UCLA Knocks Off Clemson, 2-1

Andre Ochoa’s finish was a clinical one. The UCLA forward ran onto a pass on the edge of the box, before whipping a shot into the back of the net, leaving the Clemson keeper glued to the ground as it flew in. His strike knotted the Bruins at 1-1 in a tight contest. Clemson was heavily favored here, but the Bruins took the chances they had. Tucker Lepley played hero on the night, scoring the second with 11 minutes to go — and sending UCLA through to the next round.

FIU(m) Goes Late Into the Shootout to Beat New Hampshire

It came down to the 12th round. New Hampshire and FIU couldn’t be separated after 90 minutes, and an extra 20 did no good either. The two sides traded goals, but went to a penalty shootout knotted at 2-2 after Rory O'driscoll’s late strike. And there, New Hampshire blinked first, falling in sudden death after an enthralling shootout. In truth, neither side deserved to lose here. The four goals were all well worked, while the penalties were all taken with conviction. But FIU had just enough quality on the day.

Portland Scores Late Twice Against Oregon State

Here were two sides coming into a game while on different trajectories. For Oregon State, the last few weeks have been encouraging, with the Beavers standing as the lone team to beat Washington. Portland has been comparatively shaky, with a heavy loss to San Diego tainting its WCC campaign. Still, the Pilots fought their way past UC Riverside in the first round. And their form continued Sunday night, scoring twice in the last 20 minutes to deposit the Beavers. But this result was built on the back of a solid defensive showing, as Oregon State managed only one shot on target.

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