2011 College Cup Preview: UNC, Creighton Favorites To Reach Finals

2011 College Cup Preview: UNC, Creighton Favorites To Reach Finals

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On December 9, 2011
  • 2011 College Cup, Features

The 2011 College Cup invades Hoover, Alabama this weekend. (Photo via UNC Athletics)

Four schools remain in this year’s NCAA men’s soccer tournament. The College Cup has three schools that most expected to be here and one that no one saw coming. The tournament’s top two seeds remain in UNC and Creighton while pre-season favorite UCLA – the 13th seed – and unseeded UNC Charlotte hope to spoil the fun.

No. 2 Creighton (21-2-0) vs. UNC Charlotte (16-4-3)
6 pm ET | ESPNU, ESPN3

Before the tournament I could honestly say I knew very little about the 49ers from Charlotte. A few weeks later they still remain a bit of a mystery as they upset some very quality schools along the way to reach the final four.

If Charlotte can find a way to get through one of the nation’s best defenses with MLS Generation adidas candidate Tyler Polak leading the charge, then an upset could be on the way.

Don’t expect a lot of goals in this one. Creighton has given up just five goals all season, yes, just five. Charlotte isn’t known for their big time goals but they have scored enough in this tournament to give some of the nation’s best a run for their money. Their win against UCONN last week was enough to prove to me that this team has what it takes to pull the big time upset.

Freshman Giuseppe Gentile netted some important goals in this tournament, including the game-winner over last year’s winner Akron and a goal in last week’s PK win over UCONN.

The Blue Jays have experience and toughness in their corner though. Look for MLS prospect Ethan Finlay to be a bit too much for the 49ers defense.

WVH Prediction: Creighton 1, UNCC 0

No. 1 North Carolina (20-2-2) vs. No. 13 UCLA (18-4-1)
8:30 p.m. ET | ESPNU, ESPN3

This one should be a fun one to watch tonight. UNC has been easily the best team in the nation this season. UCLA struggled early in the year and failed to reach some expectations that were placed on them back in the summer but the last two months have been fun to watch out of the Bruins.

If you are looking for future MLS players, this one will have you covered by the boat load. UNC is lead offensively by junior strikers Billy Schuler (15 G, 5 A) and Ben Speas (6 G, 9 A), and midfielders Robbie Lovejoy (6 G, 5 A), Enzo Martinez (9 G, 10 A).

UCLA gets plenty of out MLS prospects Chandler Hoffman (18 G, 4 A) and US U20 attacking midfielder Kelyn Rowe (10 A). Their attack has helped guide them to eight straight wins and their defense has been solid enough not to conceive a goal in that span.

The battle will come down to the defenses as both have experienced players that have been invited to the MLS Combine next month. UCLA has Andy Rose and Shawn Singh while UNC has the likes of Matt Hedges.

Both schools know what it is like to be in this situation and UNC definitely has experience on their side as this is their forth straight trip to the final four.

WVH Prediction: UNC 2, UCLA 1