Two big semifinal games today followed by an even bigger final later this weekend. Gotta love the College Cup format as it showcases four really good teams with three big games.
Creighton tackles Indiana while Georgetown and Maryland square off. Four really talented teams folks and this is a three-game weekend that I am super excited for. There are plenty of MLS-ready players across these four clubs – while I’ll get more into that again next week as the SuperDraft talk really heats up – this will be a time to break down each match and give a prediction on who will win it all.
Creighton vs Indiana
How they got there: Indiana was the 16th seed in the tournament which meant at some point they would have to knock off the top seed – Notre Dame. As fate would have it, they did and it came in South Bend. After that they knocked off the defending champions UNC. That win ended UNC’s 40-game home unbeaten streak with a 1-0 victory.
Creighton also had a tough road to go as they knocked off a good Washington team in the first round followed by ended Caleb Porter’s time in Akron. They punched their ticket to Hoover, AL, last weekend with a big 1-0 win over UConn with a late goal in the 89th minute.
Key player for Indiana: Eric Zavaleta. If you haven’t heard of this kid by now you need to pay attention. The sophomore forward has pretty much carried this team throughout the season and in this tournament. Creighton will have to force him out of the game with physical play and hope that he doesn’t find some late magic.
Key player for Creighton: Zach Barnes. The defensive midfielder will have the lovely task of dealing with Zavaleta. He should be up for it too. Most haven’t seen Barnes this season but he is the type of player that can control his space and keep a good attacker like Zavaleta at bay.
Final thoughts: Two very underrated teams in this matchup. Both bested some of the top teams in the country on their way to the final four. I think this one stays close and could even go into overtime. With each team being as hot as they are right now it is tough to go with one over the other.
Prediction: Indiana 2, Creighton 1
Georgetown vs Maryland
How they got there: Georgetown may have had a little tougher road to the final four than Maryland. They nearly got tripped up twice, first being in their opener against UNC Charlotte and the quarterfinal match against San Diego saw them have to come from behind.
Maryland on the other hand had little trouble getting to Hoover as they blew away a couple teams early before dominating Louisville last weekend 3-1.
Key player for Georgetown: Ian Christianson. I’ve mentioned him a few times on this blog as a HGP target for Chicago. Christianson is a good box-to-box kind of midfielder that will have to deal with the high-powered attack that Maryland has with John Stertzer and Patrick Mullins.
Key player for Maryland: Patrick Mullins. Another GA target, a speedy option up front for the Terps has done very well this season as a junior. He is a right-place-right-time kind of striker, something that lots of teams would kill to have up front.
Final thoughts: These two are close on the map to one another but don’t always get to play each other. Georgetown has been building to this moment for a couple years now and are finally reaping the rewards of good recruiting and scouting. Maryland is what we would expect out of them as they are back in the final four for the first time in a few years. Both teams are defensively sound so I would expect a tight game.
Prediction: Maryland 1, Georgetown 0
Indiana and Maryland for the College Cup final based on these predictions. A quick pick for that game goes to Maryland. Either way that will be a fantastic game.