College: Big guns still firing in ACC, Big East tourneys

Center: University of Louisville head coach Ken Lolla

Photo Credit: 
Courtesy of University of Louisville

The college soccer postseason is well under way, and this weekend each and every automatic bid will be locked up in advance of Monday’s NCAA Tournament selection show.

Here’s a look at what’s at stake in the ACC and Big East tournaments this weekend:

ACC

After Boston College’s upset win over Maryland on Tuesday, North Carolina head into the semifinals of the ACC tournament as firm favorites against Virginia.

“[We’ll do] nothing different than what we’ve been focusing on all year and that’s our preparation,” UNC head coach Carlos Somoano told MLSsoccer.com over the phone. “We take Virginia into consideration in terms of some of the things we do, but most of it will be focused on our performance.”

An impressive recruiting class has helped the Tar Heels swiftly get back in the national title picture, and even if they trip up in the ACC tournament, they are strong favorites for a College Cup return. Virginia senior Brian Ownby is eager to prove himself on this stage, with one eye on making it on the next level in 2012.

On the other side of the bracket, Duke, led by ACC Offensive Player of the Year Andrew Wenger, take on BC for a chance to return to the ACC tournament final. The Eagles are fresh off an inspirational upset against the Terrapins, but forward Charlie Rugg must be at his best for BC to advance.

Schedule:

November 11

Virginia vs. North Carolina, 5:30 pm ET, ESPN3
Boston College vs. Duke, 7:30 pm ET, ESPN3

November 13

Championship – Semifinal Winners, 12:00 pm ET

Players to Watch: F Andrew Wenger (Duke), D Matt Hedges (UNC), F Charlie Rugg (BC), F Brian Ownby (Virginia), F Billy Schuler (UNC), MF Brian Span (Virginia)

Big East

Red Bull Arena is host once again to the 2011 Big East Conference tournament, and many of this year’s big guns will be in attendance.

First up is an enticing matchup between Connecticut and Louisville. After a national title game appearance a year ago, the Cardinals have battled through injuries and struggled in Big East play this year.

“The course of the season has really helped us get to where we are from a standpoint of growth and development as a team,” Louisville head coach Ken Lolla (pictured above) told MLSsoccer.com. “We had a lot of guys back, but still a much different team than we were a year ago. The competitiveness of the season, the strength of the schedule has put us in a pretty good place.”

Advancing past the Huskies won’t be an easy task, even though they’ve struggled recently. A potent attack, led by senior Tony Cascio and junior Carlos Alvarez, will prove to be a difficult task for Austin Berry and the rest of Louisville’s defense.

Winner of that semifinal squares off against either St. John’s or Villanova. The Wildcats sprang the biggest upset of the quarterfinal, traveling to South Florida and defeating the Bulls 1-0, and it’s going to take another efficient performance to keep up the performance this weekend.

Schedule:

November 11

Connecticut vs. Louisville, 5:00 pm ET
St. John’s vs. Villanova, 7:30 pm ET

November 13

Championship – Semifinal Winners, 12:00 pm ET

Players to Watch: F Colin Rolfe (Louisville), D Austin Berry (Louisville), MF Nick DeLeon (Louisville), MF Tony Cascio (Connecticut), MF Carlos Alvarez (Connecticut), Pablo Punyed (St. John’s), Oscar Umar (Villanova)

Travis Clark covers D.C. United, college and youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com.