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College soccer

White scores three, sets UConn records in 5-0 romp over South Florida.

Top-seeded BC is dumped by UMass in second round; four in Top 10 lose first match.

ACC champion Boston College is top seed in Division I event.

Geppert header sends SMU to 1-0 victory over Bradley.

McCarty scores pair of dramtic goals, Northern Illinois surprised Northwestern 2-1 in OT.

White strikes for three again, No. 1 UConn blanks Providence 3-0.

Miller gives third-ranked Irish a 1-0 decision over No. 12 West Virginia in Big East battle.

Opara's first career goal lets No. 1 Wake Forest grab 1-1 tie with Elon.

Late Myers strike sends UCLA past San Francisco 1-0.

Del Guercio strike gives Villanova 1-0 upset of No. 2 Duke.

Rennie says he will retire after season at Duke.

Men's College Cup

Exceeding its dreams, UMass sets its sights on national title.

Stuart Amick
Stuart Amick is one of two freshman starters -- both midfielders -- for upstart Massaschusetts, which is making only its second NCAA tournament appearance and first visit to the Men's College Cup.
-- University of Massachusetts web site photo --

By Gary Davidson

(Thursday, December 13, 2007) -- Back in August, as the start of the NCAA Division I men's season approached, it would be hard to find anyone who would confidently predict Massachusetts would compete for the national championship. Even members of the team and its most faithful followers might not dare dream of more than qualifying for the NCAA tournament, something the Minutemen had only accomplished once before.

Yet, unranked UMass (17-7-1) stands only two victories from the Division I crown, part of a College Cup final four in which three of the four participants are appearing in their first national semifinals.

"Everybody dreams about winning the national championship," UMass coach Sam Koch said after his Minutemen eliminated Illinois-Chicago 2-1 at home Sunday in Amherst, Mass. "Did I know it could happen this year coming into preseason? I'm not going to lie to you, no. But we're going (to the College Cup). We're practicing next week where only three others are practicing."

In tomorrow's first game, 13th-ranked Virginia Tech faces No. 3 Wake Forest (20-2-2) in a meeting of Atlantic Coast Conference foes, a 5 p.m. (ET) match at SAS Soccer Park in Cary, N.C., to be televised live on ESPN2. The second game, scheduled for 7 p.m., features UMass against No, 10 Ohio State (16-3-5) with ESPNU handling the live broadcast.

Both games will be rebroadcast on ESPN2 and\or ESPNU. A complete schedule, as well as detailed informational capsules on each College Cup entrant, follow this story. Sunday's championship game will be played at 3 p.m. and be aire by ESPN2.

UMass, the only unseeded school left standing, managed to get hot at the right time -- the postseason. After squeaking by Dayton in a penalty-kicks tiebreaker following a 1-1 draw in its Atlantic 10 Tournament quarterfinal, UMass has won six straight to put it on the brink of achieving history.

When UMass dropped a second straight game, a 3-1 setback in a league contest to Rhode Island October 27, the Minutemen were 8-6 and hopes of even making the NCAA tournament were being tested. Since then, Massachusetts has come together as a unit, spawning confidence and optimism, while compiling a 9-1-1 mark.

The Minutemen knew they had arrived when they knocked off Boston College 2-1 November 28 in the NCAA second round, sending their in-state rival (and resident sports power) home earlier than any No. 1 seed ever in the Division I men's tourney.

"I think we've just come together as a team," goalkeeper Zack SImmons said. "We've built character and we've really built on the success that we've had, especially in the A-10, with conference play and the tournament. We came together in our time in Dayton (Ohio) where we won the A-10 championship. I think we've built on that and just carried that momentum and the quality of play that we brought there on to the (NCAA) tournament. It's taken us pretty far and we hoping to keep it going tomorrow."

While most teams who proceed this far in the NCAA tourney strive to dictate tempo, Koch sees his side as one that is more comfortable picking its spots than dominating the proceedings. "We're more of a counterattacking team," he said. "We'll look to (the opponent) to make a mistake and then we'll jump on them."

The only previous UMass team visit to the NCAA tournament came in 2001, when the Minutemen made it to the second round. That excitement hardly compares to what UMass is now experiencing. "I think it's a lot of excitement, kind of shock," said striker Bryan Hogan, the team leader with eight goals. "I don't think anyone realized how big it was until we walked into the stadium and saw the field and everything. It was a lot of excitement."

Ohio State, the Big Ten champion and College Cup debutante, promises not to take its semifinal oppoent lightly, despite being ranked highly most of the season while UMass never made the SoccerTimes.com College Coaches Poll Top 25.

"I don't feel like a favorite to be honest with you," OSU coach John Bluen said, "We've all reached here, we've all had difficult roads to get here. The University of Massachusetts has been spectacular on their path to the College Cup and are a team we respect very much."

Wake Forest, which spent much of the season with the No. 1 ranking, made its first College Cup appearance last year and it ended with disappointment in the semifinals, 4-3 in penalty kicks after playing a 0-0 draw with eventual national champion California-Santa Barbara.

"On thing that we learned is that it doesn't feel good to lose," WFU midfielder Sam Cronin said. "We were watching UC-Santa Barbara celebrate after their win and again on Sunday in the championship game. I think that most of us still remember that day and it's kind of driven us through the summer and the spring to get back here."

Of course Virginia Tech is hoping its first College Cup game ends more successfully than Wake's did a year ago in St. Louis.

"We have always seeked to improve over the last few years," said striker Patrick Nyarko, who leads Tech with 24 points, including a share of the goal lead with seven. "This team, its passion, we feel like we have what it takes to win as long as we play hard and together."

Men's College Cup
at SAS Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.

All Times Eastern

Friday, December 14


[13] Virginia Tech (14-3-5) vs. [3] Wake Forest (20-2-2), 5 p.m.
   TV: ESPN2 (delay: ESPNU, Saturday, 1 a.m., 8 a.m.
Massachusetts (17-7-1) vs. [10] Ohio State (16-3-5), 7 p.m.
   TV: ESPNU (delay: ESPNU, Saturday, 3 a.m., 10 a.m.; ESPN2, 11 p.m.

Sunday, December 16

Semifinal winners, 3 p.m.

Wake Forest logo

Wake Forest (20-2-2, .875)

Coach: Jay Vidovich, 185-81-27, .677, in 14th season at Wake Forest and overall.
Team nickname: Deamon Deacons.
Goals scored-allowed: 63-13.
SoccerTimes.com rank: 3.
NCAA tournament seed: 2
NCAA qualification: At-large from Atlantic Coast Conference. Finished second in ACC at 6-1-1, lost 2-1 to Boston College in ACC Tournament final.
NCAA tournament results
-- First round:
-- Second round, November 28: Defeated Furman 1-0 at home.
-- Third round, December 2: Defeated West Virginia 3-1 at home.
-- Quarterfinals, December 8: Defeated Notre Dame 1-0 in overtime at home.
NCAA history: 12-9-2, .565; in 12th appearence, making second straight and overall appearance in College Cup final; lost in 2006 semifinals.
2007 games vs. Final Four: Played 3-3 draw at Virginia Tech on October 5.
All-time record vs. Final Four participants: Virginia Tech 9-2-2, 0-0 in NCAA tournamet; Massachusetts 0-0, Ohio State 4-0, 0-0 in NCAA tournament.
Record vs. 2007 NCAA tournament teams: 11-2-1, .821.
Probable starting lineup and reserves
-- Forwards:
Cody Arnoux (sophomore), Marcus Tracy (junior).
-- Midfielders: Corben Bone (freshman), Pat Phelan (senior), Sam Cronin (junior), Michael Lahoud (junior).
-- Defenders: Julian Valentin (senior), Ike Opara (freshman), Evan Brown (junior), Lyle Adams (junior).
-- Goalkeeper: Brian Edwards (enior)
-- Reserves: Forward Zack Schilawski (sophomore), midfielder Jamie Franks (junior), midfielder Austin da Luz (sophomore).
Goals leaders: Arnoux 15, Tracy 8, Schilawski 8, Bone 5, Adams 4, Lahoud 4.
Assists leaders: da Luz 13, Bone 8, Tracy 8, Arnoux 7, Cronin 7.
Points leaders: Arnoux 37, Tracy 24, Schilawski 19, da luz 19, Bone 18.
Notes: Wake Forest in the only College Cup semifinalist with Final Four experience. . . midfielder and co-captain Sam Cronin has started every game since his freshman season. . . Senior defender and co-captain Julian Valentin is one of 15 Hermann Trophy semifinalists. . . Corben Bone was named 2007 ACC "Freshman of the Year". . . The Deamon Deacons lead NCAA Division I in scoring offense. . . Austin da Luz is fifth in the nation with 0.59 assists per game. . . Goalkeeper Brian Edwards is fourth in the country with his 0.50 goals-against average. . . Both Wake losses came to to Boston College. WFU's 13 team shutouts tie the school record established in 2007.
Jay Vidovich: "Maybe we're the favorite. We're the highest seed (remaining). We've been to the College Cup (previously). The obvious thing (is) we have to put away our opportunities. We're going to hane to take care of a special player (Patrick Nyarko of semifinal opponent Virginia Tech) and a well-rounded team. If we don't win (the championship), I'm not going to consider the year, myself, the team a failure. I don't think so, but one thing I don't think (is) we will be happy exiting the tournament and that's motivated the team all year."
Julian Valentin: "We don't feel we have something to prove (after losing last year in teh national semifinals). We're just excited about getting back to the College Cup and hopefully we'll win it. In order to win it, we have to take it one step at a time, take Virginia Tech first. . . Possession will be important and we have to defend hard. . . We need to take our chances when they come. . . We'd be disappointed if we don't win (the title) -- all the hard work we put in since lasy year's disappointment. But if we play to our ability, we feel good about our chances."

Ohio State logo

Ohio State (16-3-5, .771)

Coach: John Bluem, 117-80-28, .582., in 11th year at Ohio State; 203-107-40, .637, in 17th year overall.
Team nickname: Buckeyes.
Goals scored-allowed: 39-18.
SoccerTimes.com rank: 10
NCAA tournament seed: 5
NCAA qualification: Automatic bid as Big Ten champion; Finished second in Big 10 at 4-1-1, then won conference tournament defeating Indiana 5-4 in penalty kicks following a 0-0 draw in final.
NCAA tournament results
-- First round:
-- Second round, November 28: Defeated Louisville 1-0 at home.
-- Third round, December 2: Defeated California-Santa Barbara 4-3 at home
-- Quarterfinals, December 9: Defeated Bradley 4-0 at home.
NCAA history: 4-5, .556., in fifth appearance; advanced to Round of 16 in 2004.
2007 games vs. Final Four: None.
All-time record vs. Final Four participants: Massachusetts 0-0; Virginia Tech 1-0, 0-0 in NCAA tournament; Wake Forest 0-4, 0-0 in NCAA tournament.
Record vs. 2007 NCAA tournament teams: 8-2-4, .714.
Probable starting lineup and reserves
-- Forwards:
Xavier Balc (senior), Andrew Magill (sophomore).
-- Midfielders: Roger Espinoza (junior), Matt Gold (freshman), Danny Irizarry (junior), Geoff Marsh (junior)
-- Defenders: Tim Gabel (junior), Eric Brunner (senior), Doug Verhoff (sophomore), Patrick Roan (junior).
-- Goalkeeper: Casey Latchem (senior).
-- Reserves: Forward Eric Edwards (senior), midfielder Konrad Warzycha (freshman), midfielder Sam Scales (freshman), defender Jordan Lomnicki (freshman), forward Ryan Kustos (senior), forward Nowa Thiam (freshman).
Goals leaders: Balc 8, Brunner 6, Magill 5, Gabel 3, five with 2.
Assists leaders: Balc 13, Gabel 5, Marsh 4, Magill 3, Irizarry 3.
Points leaders: Balc 29, Magill 13, Brunner 12, Gabel 11, five with 6.
Notes: First time appearaing in the College Cup final four. . . Ohio State brings a 14-game unbeaten streak (11-0-3) into the College Cup -- The Buckeyes won the Big Ten Tournament championship against Indiana in a penalty-kicks shootout, the first time an OSU game ended in penalty kicks. . . Eric Brunner was named to the Hermann Trophy watch list in August, the first Buckeye to be so honored.
John Bluem: "We knew we had a very good core of players coming back, even though we graduated six. I thought we had a good team, but did I think we would go all the way to the College Cup? No. . . It's a team that's very good defensively. It's very difficult to score against us, but it's complemented by some good attacking weapons. And there's a winning attitude and a winning character. We have a team that's pretty confident now and playing with a little swagger, but I think all four teams that advanced to the College Cup must have that, also."
Eric Brunner: "It's a new experience for teh whole team and we're going to come out to enjoy it. (Getting to the final four) us a good accomplishment. We're not looking to the final. We're just looking at the game ahead of us. We've gone throughthe whole season like that and we're going to stay with that. We need to play as we have been. Our forward need to apply pressure. We need to win the second balls. . . And our defense need to stay organized and hopefully post a shutout. I think we're itching to play. I think we're focused on the game ahead of us."

Virginia Tech logo

Virginia Tech (14-3-5, .750)

Coach: Oliver Weiss 68-38-16, .623, in sixth season at Virginia Tech and overall.
Team nickname: Hokies.
Goals scored-allowed: 51-26.
SoccerTimes.com rank: 13.
NCAA tournament seed: 11.
NCAA qualification: At-large from Atlantic Coast Conference. Finsihed fourth in ACC at 3-1-4, lost in conference tournament semifinals.
NCAA tournament results
-- First round:
-- Second round, November 28: Defeated California 3-2 at home.
-- Third round, December 2: Defeated Old Dominion 1-0 at home.
-- Quarterfinals, December 8: Won 1-0 at Connecticut.
NCAA history: 3-2-2, .571., in fourth appearance; advanced to second round in 2003, school's first appearance.
2007 games vs. Final Four: Tied 3-3 with Wake Forest October 5 at home.
All-time record vs. Final Four participants: Wake Forest 2-9-2, 0-0 in NCAA tournament; Ohio State 0-1, 0-0 in NCAA tournament; Massachusetts 1-3-1, 0-0 in NCAA tournament.
Record vs. 2007 NCAA tournament teams: 4-2-4, .600.
Probable starting lineup and reserves
-- Forwards:
Patrick Nyarko (junior), Robert Edmans (junior).
-- Midfielders: Ben Nason (senior), Scott Spangler (senior), Georg Zehender (senior), Charlie Campbell (sophomore).
-- Defenders: Alexander Baden (senior), James Shupp (freshman), Marcus Reed (senior), Bryan Collier (senior).
-- Goalkeeper: Markus Aigner (junior).
-- Reserves: Forward Stefan Hock (junior), midfielder James Gilson (sophomore).
Goals leaders: Nason 7, Nyarko 7, Edmans 7, Hock 5, Zehender 4.
Assists leaders: Edmans 19, Nyarko 10, Zehender 9, Charlie Campbell 5, Spangler 5.
Points leaders: Nyarko 24, Edmans 19, Zehender 16, Nason 16, Hock 13, Campbell 13.
Notes: First time in the College Cup final four. . . Virginia Tech's current winning percentage of .750 is the best in school history. . . Patrick Nyarko is one of 15 Hermann Trophy semifinalists. . . Tech is 7-0 in games decided by one goal and 11-1-2 when scoring first. . . Senior Ben Nason's 84 games played are a school record. . . Seventeen Hokies have at least one goal or assist.
Oliver Weiss: "We knew we had a good squad. We didn;t know har far we could go. . . You can't get to Sunday unless you get through Friday. The next game is the most important one. We're facing a great team (in Wake Forest Friday). We're going to embrace the challenge. I would like to dictate the game, but every game is different (and) Wake will have a lot to say about that. . . I hope it's not going to be six goals again (the teams played a 3-3 draw October 5), but both teams are pretty explosive."
Ben Nason: Being in the College Cup, "It's incredible. All the guys are really excited. I've been (at Virginia Tech) for five years and this is definitely the way I want to go out. We definitely want to take it one game at a time, stay focused. We have a really good shot. (Focusing on gone game at a time), that's been our game plan all year. . . (At the start of the year), it really would have been a long shot for us to make the College Cup. I definitely thought it was going to be a good year. You could see the talent was there and anything was possible."

UMass logo

Massachusetts (17-7-1, 700)

Coach: Sam Koch, 187-123-29, .584, in 17th season at Massachusetts; 245-177-45, .573, in 23rd season overall.
Team nickname: Minutemen
Goals scored-allowed: 35-20.
SoccerTimes.com rank: None.
NCAA tournament seed: None.
NCAA qualification: Automatic bid as Atlantic 10 champion; Finished third in A-10 at 6-3; defeated Charlotte 2-0 to win A-10 Tournament
NCAA tournament results
-- First round, November 23:
Defeated Boston University 2-1 at home.
-- Second round, November 28: Won 2-1 at Boston College.
-- Third round, December 2: Defeated Central Connecticut State 3-1 at home.
-- Quarterfinals, December 9: Defeated Illinois-Chicago 2-1 at home.
NCAA history: 5-1, .833, in second appearance; advanced to second round in 2001.
2007 games vs. Final Four: None.
All-time record vs. Final Four participants: Ohio State 0-0; Wake Forest 0-0; Virginia Tech (VT, 3-1-1, 0-0 in NCAA tournament.
Record vs. 2007 NCAA tournament teams: 8-1, 889.
Probable starting lineup and reserves
-- Forwards:
Bryan Hogan (sophomore), Mark DeSantis (sophomore).
-- Midfielders: Stu Amick (freshman), Mike DeSantis (junior), Ben Arikian (freshman), Greg Cirillo (senior).
-- Defenders: Doug Rappaport (junior), Chris Brown (junior), Kenny Cook (senior), Dan Lepone (sophomore)
-- Goalkeeper: Zack Simmons (junior).
-- Reserves: Forward Michael Jejna (sophomore), Prince Ofosu (junior), midfielder Chris Vaccaro (freshman), defender Stuart Thomson (sophomore).
Goals leaders: Hogan 8, Amick 5, Ofosu 4, Mike DeSantis 4, Mark DeSantis 4.
Assists leaders: Mark DeSantis 6, Arikian 6, Rappaport 5, Cook 3, Cirillo 3.
Points leaders: Hogan 18, Mark DeSantis 14, Amick 12, Rappaport 11, Ofosu 10.
Notes: First appearance in the College Cup final four. . . By defeating Boston College in the second round, UMass facilitated the earliest exit every by the top seed of the Division I tournament. . . The Minutemen, the only unseeded team in teh College Cup, have won their last six outings are 9-1-1 in their last 11. Their 17 victories are a school record.
Sam Koch: "I don't think the players thought (making the College Cup as an unseeded team) was impossible. And when we beat BC (top-seeded Boston College in the second round), we knew it was possible. When everyone works together as a unit, we're a very hard team to beat. When we don't, we're a very average team. . . We want to get to the finals, that's the only thing we're thinking about now, but we'll be very disappointed if we're not practicing Saturday (after a semifinal victory)>
Kenny Cook: "I think our style of play we have doesn't go in one direction or the other. I think it's more conducive to playing more direct. Sometimes its not what you would hope. The more passes you have, the more chance you have of screwing up. The field's absolutely beautiful out there, we can't wait to get on it. We do play direct at times because it's what's been working for us, finding our striker's feet in the back and running the play after that first pass. But we can definitely mix it up."

Gary Davidson is SoccerTimes publisher and managing editor.

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