Eight BIG EAST Teams Selected to the 2012 NCAA Men's Soccer Championship

 

 The NCAA announced the 48-team NCAA Men's Soccer Championship field on Nov. 12, which includes a record eight teams from the BIG EAST: Notre Dame, Georgetown, Connecticut, Marquette, Louisville, St. John's, USF and Syracuse. The eight teams are the most-ever for the BIG EAST, with the previous high of seven occurring five times (2011, 2010, 2007, 2006, 2005). The BIG EAST has three of the top four seeds (No. 1 Notre Dame, No. 3 Georgetown, No. 4 Connecticut), as well as five of the top 10 seeds (No. 7 Marquette, No. 10 Louisville). The BIG EAST had the most teams of any league, with the next highest conference being the ACC at five schools. 

 

Notre Dame was chosen as the No. 1 seed and will host the winner of Horizon League champion Cleveland State vs. Big Ten champion Michigan State in the second round on Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. ET. ND is coming off its third BIG EAST Championship title after defeating Georgetown 3-2 in double overtime on Nov. 11. The Fighting Irish are ranked first in the NCAA RPI rankings and are ranked seventh in the most recent NSCAA poll. Notre Dame is on a seven-game unbeaten streak and the Irish have only lost one game in the last 10 outings.  The Fighting Irish are 16-3-1 overall and are led by BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Offensive Performer Ryan Finley, who leads the league with 20 goals and 44 points. Finley's 1.00 goal per game rank third nationally.

 

Georgetown earned a No. 3 seed and a bye to the second round. The Hoyas will face the winner of UAB and Charlotte on Nov. 18 at 1 p.m. ET. GU, the 2012 BIG EAST Championship runner up, clinched a share of the BIG EAST Blue Division regular season title. The Hoyas, ranked No. 4 in the most recent NSCAA national poll, were on a seven-game winning streak prior to the title game against Notre Dame. The Hoyas (17-3-1) are led by Brandon Allen, who has 13 goals and two assists for 28 points. Tomas Gomez has played in 15 games at goalkeeper, posting a 0.76 goals-against average and recording six shutouts. The trip to the NCAA Championship is the first since 2010, when the Hoyas lost on penalty kicks in second round.

 

Connecticut was ranked as a No. 4 seed and will begin NCAA Championship action at home against the winner of Boston College at Northeastern in the second round at 1 p.m. on Nov. 18. The Huskies are 15-3-1 overall and are led by Mamadou Diouf, who has registered 28 points on a team-high 13 goals and two assists. Two-time BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Year Andre Blake is in net for UConn, allowing 10 goals in 19 games this season for a 0.52 goals-against average, which ranks fourth nationally. The Huskies are making their 15th-straight trip to the national tournament.

 

Marquette (16-3-1) earned a No. 7 seed and will face the winner of the first-round game between Western Illinois and Northwestern. MU will host the second-round match up on Nov. 18 at 6 p.m. ET. The Golden Eagles had started the 2012 season on a 12-game winning streak and their 16 wins in 2012 are a program record. MU is led by Andy Huftalin, who has 24 points on 10 goals and four assists. Charlie Lyon has played all 20 games between the pipes, making 85 saves and earning 10 shutouts with a 0.77 goals-against average. The Golden Eagles are making their first appearance in the NCAA Championship since joining in the BIG EAST.

 

Louisville (12-4-1) was selected as a No. 10 seed. The Cardinals earn a bye to the second round and will play either Winthrop or SMU at home at 7 p.m. ET on Nov. 18. UofL has two 13-point scorers leading the team, as Will Vitalis and Dylan Mares each have four goals and five assists. Greg Cochrane has a team-high five goals and two assists for 12 points. The Cardinals, who posted a 7-1 record in league play, are led defensively by BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year Andrew Farrell. This year's appearance in the NCAA Championship is Louisville's sixth straight. The Cardinals reached the national title game in 2010 and lost in double-overtime to UCLA in the quarterfinals last year.

 

St. John's (10-4-4) will face Northeast Conference tournament champion Fairleigh Dickinson in the first round on Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. The Red Storm have outscored opponents 27-14, including a 16-7 advantage in the second half. All-BIG EAST First Team selection Jack Bennett leads the team with 14 points on team highs of five goals and four assists. The Red Storm are making their second straight appearance in the NCAA Championship after bowing out in the second round last year.

 

USF (8-5-4), which was ranked as high as No. 2 in the NSCAA poll, was an at-large selection and will host Florida Gulf Coast in the first round on Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. The winner will face Tulsa in the second round. The Bulls are led by Leston Paul (3g, 6a) and Robert Alterio (5g,1a). Five of the Bulls' last eight matches were against opponents whose RPI was in the top 43 in the country.  In total, USF played nine of the top 43 teams in RPI. The trip to the NCAA Championship is USF's sixth in a row, with the Bulls reaching the quarterfinals last year before losing by a goal in overtime.

 

Syracuse (12-6-0) will play in the first round against Ivy league champion Cornell. The Orange travel to Cornell for a 7 p.m. game on Nov. 15. Freshman Jordan Vale leads the Orange with 17 points on eight goals and an assist. The SU coaching staff was named BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year after turning last year's 1-7-1 league record into 5-3-0 in 2012, good for the second seed in the Red Division. It is the second NCAA Championship appearance for the Orange, and first since 1984. The winner will travel to VCU for a second-round match.

 

The national semifinals and final will be held at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala. on Dec. 7 and 9. The semifinals will take place at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 7, with the championship final played at 2 p.m. on Dec. 9. All three games will be broadcast live on ESPNU.