Cornell, Brown Gain NCAA Men's Soccer Championship Bids
INDIANAPOIS -- It took a little longer to appear on the screen than hoped for on Monday evening, but the Ivy League received two bids into the NCAA Men's Soccer Championship field of 48.
Ivy League champion Cornell will host Syracuse (12-6-0) in a first round match on Thursday at 7 pm, while Brown received an at-large spot and will visit Drexel for a 4 pm match.
The Bears and Dragons both had to sweat it out as two of the last teams at-large teams to appear.
At 15-1-0, Cornell's 15 wins are the most by an Ivy League squad since Brown went 15-2-1 in the 2007 season. Cornell won its first Ivy League title since 1995 and its first outright League crown since 1977. The Big Red will be making their 10th NCAA Championship appearance, but their first since 1996. Cornell's last NCAA match was a 2-1 overtime loss to Rutgers. The Big Red are 8-9-0 all-time in NCAA Championship play.
The Big Red were No. 23 in the NCAA RPI through Sunday's matches. They have been ranked for eight straight weeks in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Top 25 and figure to be again on Tuesday. Cornell was No. 14 last week and has been as high as 10th (October 16).
Syracuse (12-6) lost in the Big East quarterfinals at home to Notre Dame, 4-2. The Irish wound up the No. 1 seed in the NCAA bracket. The Orange have allowed just 14 goals all season - four of those in the loss to the Irish. Ranked No. 40 in the RPI, Syracuse finished second in the Big East's Red Division.
Built on defense, Syracuse has allowed just 9.7 shots per match. Alex Bono is the Orange's primary goalkeeper. He has a 0.84 GAA thus far this season in 17 matches. Jordan Vale is their leading scorer with 17 points (8g, 1a). Syracuse, making its second-ever NCAA Championship appearance (the other coming in 1984), has five players that have recorded 10 or more points this season.
On the other hand, Cornell has been one of the most explosive offenses all season long. The Big Red are fourth in scoring offense, averaging 2.44 goals per match this season. In contrast to the Orangeman, Cornell averages 16.5 shots per match. Daniel Haber is third in the nation in total goals (18) and total points (43), while leading the nation in points per game and goals per game. The Big Red's defense isn't too shaby, either, with Rick Pflasterer logging a 0.75 GAA this season.
The winer of the Cornell-Syracuse match will face 14th-seeded VCU in Richmond on Sunday at 7 pm.
Brown (12-2-3) will make its 27th NCAA Championship appearance. Last year, the Bears advanced to the third round of the tournament, defeating Fairfield and St. John's before losing to St. Mary's. It is the fourth consecutive year that the Bears earned a spot in the tournament and the seventh time in the last eight years. Brown is 34-27-1 all-time in NCAA Championship action.
The Bears will likely be a Top 25 team for the 10th time in 12 weeks when the NSCAA poll comes out on Tuesday. Brown was ranked No. 11 last week's poll and have been as high as No. 10 (October 30).
Brown features one of the best defenses in the country, ranking fifth in team goals against average at 0.56. Sam Kernan-Schloss is seventh in the nation in goals against average (0.56) and 16th in save percentage (.836).
Drexel (12-3-3) was the regular season champion of the Colonial Athletic Association, but was upset by Hofstra in the semifinal round in penalty kicks. The Dragons, ranked No. 31 in the RPI, were 5-1-2 at the Vidas Athletic Complex this season.
The Dragons, making just their third NCAA Tournament appearance and first since 1972, are led by Nathan Page with nine goals and 19 points on the year to earn first-team All-CAA honors. Drexel also relies on its defense. Goalkeeper Tim Washam is 13th in the nation in goals against average (0.72) and eighth in save percentage (.845).
The winner of the Brown-Drexel match will face second-seeded Maryland in College Park at 5 pm.
It is the eighth consecutive year that multiple teams from the Ivy League made it into the tournament field dating back to 2004 when Dartmouth was the lone participant. Ivy League teams have won at least one match each of the last four years and six out of the last seven years. The Ivy League has advanced five teams to the Round of 16 since the bracket restructure in 2001 and has recorded 12 first-round wins in that time.