By JOHN BOSCHINI
Out of the four games played out this weekend in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, only one ended in regulation. That game had nine goals.
On a snow-covered field in Kentucky, No. 1 Louisville kept its unbeaten season alive and advanced to its first-ever College Cup with a dramatic 5-4 victory over No. 8 UCLA. The Bruins surprised the Big East champions with an early goal. In the eighth minute, Eder Arreola beat Andre Boudreaux from seven yards out to give UCLA the lead. That lead was doubled 10 minutes later when freshman Kelyn Rowe's free kick found the bottom corner. Colin Rolfe pulled one back for the Cardinals just before the half-hour mark when his deflected free kick landed in the back of the net.
UCLA's lead was extended six minutes before halftime with a goal from Chandler Hoffman. The line judge rose his flag to indicate offsides but referee Abby Okulaga overruled his assistant and the UCLA had a 3-1 halftime victory. A penalty from Charlie Campbell and goals from Colin Rolfe and Nick Deleone gave the Cardinals the lead in a span of just 15 minutes but Victor Chavez managed to equalize for UCLA and the game looked destined for overtime. But Aaron Horton, who had only scored once this season, made an incredible run from midfield and slotted it past Brian Rowe to secure a dramatic victory.
With the win, Lousiville sets a new Big East unbeaten record of 22, eclipsing the 21-game streak set by St. John's 17 years ago. This was the second time UCLA has surrendered five goals this season, losing 5-1 to Indiana early in September.
ACC champions and No. 2 seed Maryland is the lone top-four seed not to advance to the College Cup, succumbing 3-2 in double overtime to 10th-seeded Michigan. Casey Townsend gave the Terrapins the lead when his shot from 16 yards out found the side netting in the 17th minute. After the interval, Jeff Quijano and Justin Meram put the Wolverines ahead before the hour mark. Redshirt senior Jason Herrick equalized for Maryland in the 79th minute with a shot from 20 yards out.
Maryland dominated the first overtime, outshooting the Wolverines 4-1 but couldn't end the contest. Three minutes into the second overtime, Fabio Periera received a cross from Hamoody Saad and calmly beat Zac MacMath to his left post to continue Michigan's fairy-tale season. Maryland ended up with a 33-18 shot advantage but Michigan keeper Chris Blais kept his side in the game on multiple occasions, recording seven saves. The loss ends Maryland's winning streak at 15 games.
No. 3 Akron needed penalty kicks to advance to its second-consecutive College Cup, dispatching No. 6 California after the two teams played to a 3-3 draw after 110 minutes. Antony Avalos put California ahead on the half-hour mark with a shot from 13 yards out. It was only the seventh time Akron has trailed over the past two seasons. Akron equalized and took the lead in a span of just 20 seconds when Michael Nanchoff notched his 10th goal of the season and Scott Caldwell took advantage of a Bears' defense that had fallen asleep. Tony Salciccia equalized for California with a close-range rebound.
Perry Kitchen seemed to have scored the game winner in the 75th minute with a shot from the top of the box but California earned a late equalizer when John Fitzpatrick scored with just 1:31 left in regulation. The Zips booked their ticket to Santa Barbara with a 3-2 shootout win.
Speaking of penalty kicks, No. 4 North Carolina became the first team ever to advance to the College Cup by winning all of its NCAA Tournament games via shootouts, prevailing after a 1-1 draw with No. 5 Southern Methodist. For the second-consecutive game, the Tar Heels conceded first when Robbie Derschang beat Eddied Ababio down the left flank and rifled a pass into Arthur Ivo, who beat Scott Goodwin from 14 yards out. The lead didn't last long as Kirk Urso one-timed a pass from Enzo Martinez into the net. From then on, it was all Tar Heels, outshooting the Mustangs 18-8 in regulation but they couldn't find a winner.
After two scoreless overtime periods, the Tar Heels converted four penalty kicks in a row while Josue Soto hit the crossbar and Goodwin stoned Leone Cruz. This is the third-consecutive trip to the College Cup for North Carolina.
What did you think of this weekend's drama? Surprised to see Maryland go out? Impressed by the Louisville's comeback?
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