PCI: Who Will Win the Men’s NCAA Soccer National Championship
The University of Virginia
The University of Virginia Cavaliers this year alone have won NCAA Championships in men’s basketball and men’s lacrosse. To end 2019, they will also take home more championship hardware in men’s soccer.
The Cavaliers ended the regular season ranked No. 2 in the country, and defeated the No. 1 team in the country, Clemson University, to take home the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship. The Cavaliers finished the regular season with a 17-1-1 record and won their first ACC Championship since 2009. This is a unique feat for a Cavalier team that has a deep tradition of winning. The Cavaliers have now made the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Tournament, also known as the College Cup, 39 years straight and have won seven times. Their most recent victory came in 2014. At the helm of this storied program is George Gelnovatch, who has been in Charlottesville since 1996 when he took over for Bruce Arena. Virginia won the College Cup in 2009, which was the last time they won the ACC. The last time they won 17 or more games was also back in 2009. So, it begs the question, could history repeat itself?
The main reason why the Cavaliers are destined to capture their eighth championship in program history is because of their Rating Percentage Index. The Cavaliers are No. 1 in RPI this year, which takes into account strength of schedule and other external factors. Virginia has capitalized on these opportunities so far this season. They are 8-0 against teams ranked inside the top 25, including a perfect 4-0 mark against teams inside the top 10. They have also knocked off the No. 1 team in the country twice in Clemson and University of Maryland. They hold impressive wins such as No. 2 Duke University, No. 21 Notre Dame University, No. 18 James Madison University and No. 7 Wake Forest University.
The Cavaliers also faced some adversity in the ACC Championship game. They trailed 1-0 at half and scored three goals in the second half to seal the deal. This past game was only the second time all season that Virginia had trailed at the break.
The Cavaliers were bounced in the third round of the NCAA Tournament last year by the University of Notre Dame. This year will be different. This Cavaliers team is most experienced and holds a school record of players who received All-ACC Honors with seven.
The team also recorded 14 clean sheets this year. Six of those clean sheets came against top 25 ranked teams as well, which could prove beneficial down the stretch in the NCAA Tournament. Out of all the teams to make the NCAA Tournament, the University of Virginia has the best chance to bring home another trophy to Charlottesville.
– Thomas Zinzarella ’21
There are a number of teams heading into the NCAA men’s soccer tournament with the goal to win it all. Because there will only be one team holding the trophy high in just a couple of weeks, I am going with the Big East champions from Georgetown University as my pick for the winners of the NCAA tournament.
To back my pick up, let’s first look at Georgetown’s successful season. The team finished overall with a 15-1-3 record, resulting in a .868 winning percentage. In conference play alone, Georgetown went 7-0-2, finishing with a .889 winning percentage. In the Big East tournament just this past week, the Hoyas defeated tough teams from Butler and Providence College.
In the final match-up against the PC Friars, Georgetown was originally down 1-0 after the first half. Jacob Montes changed the pace of the game by battling hard in the penalty box and drawing a foul. Dante Polvara finished the job by finding the back of the net with the penalty kick. After that, the gates opened up and Georgetown scored another two unanswered goals before the final buzzer. This marks Georgetown’s third consecutive Big East Championship title, the only school to do so besides St. John’s University and Seton Hall University.
First, you have to acknowledge the depth of the talent throughout this year’s roster. Throughout the Big East tournament there were several players for Georgetown that stood out. Three of the Big East awards were given to Georgetown players, Montes, Dylan Nealis, and Giannis Nikopolidis. Showing their strength throughout the field, the players were rewarded for the midfield, defense, and goalie positions.
Now the Hoyas have earned their tenth NCAA tournament bid, this time as the No. 3 seed. Experience helps any team play at their best level, and the Hoyas are no strangers to the pressure of the national tournament. The team has gone as far as the finals once, quarterfinals twice, and the Round of 16, six different times. Their No. 3 seed this year ties the highest rank Georgetown has received since their runner-up performance in 2012.
It definitely will not be an easy road trip to the championship, first the Hoyas will face the winner of the Univesity of Pittsburg versus Lehigh University game on Nov. 24. Their biggest competition, however, might be University of Virginia who was assigned the No. 1 seed for the tournament. Virginia also clinched their conference title by defeating Clemson University, 3–1, a very similar game to the Georgetown/PC game. Although the regular season and conference play helps teams prepare, it all comes down to how each team shows up to play in the upcoming weeks. I believe Georgetown is ready to finally clinch the NCAA championship title.
– Eileen Flynn ’20