MLS on Campus: UCLA climb while Georgetown, Cal slide as NCAA season winds down to nitty-gritty

MLS on Campus UCLA's Victor Chavez and Nathan Smith celebrate

Photo Credit: 
Scott Chandler/UCLA Athletics

Welcome back to MLS On Campus, our weekly look at the goings-on in the college game. Every Monday, we'll give you the week's best highlights, the standout players, which games to watch in the week ahead and, of course, our national Top 10 list.

After all, the SuperDraft is only a few months away…

Big Men on Campus

St. Louis junior forward Robert Kristo – The Billikens’ season has fallen short of the lofty expectations that had been set for them, but Kristo has basically kept pace with the expectations he set last season when he scored 11 goals.

Of course, a lot of that has to do with his performance this week. Kristo scored both goals in St. Louis’ 3-2 overtime loss to Louisville on Halloween, and losing to the Cardinals didn’t seem to dampen his scoring spirit, as he added another two against St. Joseph’s on Sunday. The Bosnian-born striker now has eight goals on the season.

Creighton sophomore midfielder Timo Pitter – Creighton sort of fell off the face of the earth in October, which can happen when you lose five of your seven games. Let’s not forget, though, that the Bluejays were ranked as high as No. 3 in the country, and their last two performances – a 2-0 win over Drake and a 5-1 shellacking of DePaul – prove that there was fire underneath that smoke.

And, frankly, hats off to Pitter for his role in making it happen. Pitter started the week off against Drake by assisting on both of Creighton’s goals, and then added two goals of his own against DePaul. The German midfielder now has seven goals and four assists this season.

Rank Trending Last College Comment

1

4

UCLA
(10-3-4)

The Bruins have put up some really puzzling results this season, but much fewer of them than the massive wins they’ve collected, and they’ve picked up the pace down the stretch. They handed Cal their second loss of the season on Sunday, just one week after becoming the first team in the country to beat Washington this season. UCLA are now first in the conference, though because the Golden Bears and the Huskies each have two games in hand, it likely won’t be enough to win them the Pac-12.

2

8

Notre Dame
(9-1-5)

What a difference a week makes. Last week’s defeat to Virginia put Notre Dame’s elite status in question, but they answered back with a 3-1 win on the road to Wake Forest. The Irish are now tied with Maryland for top spot in the ACC heading into the last week of the season.

3

2

California
(11-2-2)

The Golden Bears bounced back nicely from their shock loss to San Diego last week by taking down San Diego State 3-2 on Friday, but then UCLA came to town and promptly earned revenge for the 3-2 win Cal posted down at Drake Stadium earlier in the season. It’s Cal’s second loss in as many weeks, making the Golden Bears seem … mortal?

4

1

Georgetown
(12-4-1)

A 1-0 road loss to St. John’s on Saturday snapped a three-game win streak for the Hoyas, their latest a 1-0 win on the road against Big East leaders Marquette. It’s a somewhat surprising result, because the Red Storm had been 1-4-2 in-conference prior to facing Georgetown. But St. John’s have actually had some pretty respectable results this year – wins over Akron and Penn State, for example – and have been even more dangerous at home.

5

5

Washington
(11-1-4)

No games this week for the Huskies, so they can snuggle up with the No. 5 spot for another week.

6

6

Maryland
(9-3-5)

Just one game for the Terps this week, a 2-1 win over NC State on Senior Night. Getting into the spirit of things, senior standout and reigning Hermann Trophy winner Patrick Mullins scored the game-winner on a 25-yard free kick. Maryland still sit tied with Notre Dame for most points in ACC play heading into the last week of the season, adding a little extra motivation for their final regular-season game vs. Virginia Tech.

7

3

Wake Forest
(8-4-5)

Wake missed a big opportunity against Notre Dame to take on the mantle of the best team in the ACC, and it might have cost them in more than just prestige points. The conference standings are too tight right now to predict exactly who their first-round tourney matchup will be, but the difference between finishing No. 1 or No. 2 in the ACC and finishing No. 3 can radically change the degree of difficulty for that first game.

8

(N/R)

Akron
(12-3-1)

The Zips have slowly been climbing out of the hole they dug themselves in the first month of the season by losing three games. Since losing to Hartwick on Oct. 5 – their only really puzzling loss, as it turns out, with their other two defeats coming against St. John’s and VCU – they are 5-0-1, and capped off that run on Wednesday with a 2-1 win over Michigan in Ann Arbor.

9

(N/R)

Louisville
(11-3-3)

The Cardinals finished off their regular-season slate on Sunday night with a 0-0 draw against USF at home. It’s not a super-sexy result, because the Bulls are 6-3-8 overall and 2-2-4 in-conference, but Louisville will take it any day of the week because with that draw, they clinched first-place in the AAC. Far from merely clinching a conference title, however, the Cardinals also picked up a big 3-2 overtime win over No. 20 St. Louis.

10

10

UC Santa Barbara
(11-4-2)

So, drawing UC Davis (6-8-3) at home is not a really good result, but UCSB won the Big West North with three games left to go in the season and were without three of their starters, so we’re nitpicking at this point. More importantly, let’s not sleep on the Gauchos until we’ve seen round two of the “Blue-Green” Rivalry, which goes down on Saturday at Harder Stadium. Lest you forget, more than 11,000 people showed up to see the first leg at Cal Poly.

Highlights

Apparently karma allows for teams to lose back-to-back 4-3 games. UAB lost a heartbreaker to New Mexico on Wednesday, blowing a two-goal lead, tying the game at 3-3 with less than two minutes remaining, and then losing on a penalty kick with seven seconds to go in regulation. Home would prove no more forgiving, because UAB would lose in similar circumstances to South Carolina. On Senior Night.

Marquette’s Senior Night went better, particularly for defender Paul Dillon, who opened the scoring with a classy strike from distance. The Golden Eagles finished with a 2-1 win over Seton Hall, and lead Xavier by a point in the Big East with one game to go.

What to Watch For

Akron vs. Penn State, Wednesday, 7 pm ET (Watch on Mac-Sports.com)

This one is interesting, partly because both teams have had really up-and-down seasons. Penn State’s recent stampede of good form was tripped up by a 1-0 loss to Ohio State on Saturday, but Akron are still going strong. That said, the Zips are well below Penn State in the RPI rankings, and a win over the Big Ten champions would be a huge boost for them.

Navy vs. Army, Friday, 7 pm ET (watch on NSCAAtv.com)

Army-Navy games are always fun in any sport, but it turns out that this one is going to be a pretty good game in its own right. Navy have already clinched top spot in the Patriot League tournament, which will start in two weeks, and Army have booked their ticket to that dance as well. Call this one a preview, and an important one, because it’s hard to believe that the Patriot League is going to send more than one team to the NCAA tournament.