Photo courtesy of UNC Athletic Media Communications
For all of North Carolina’s recent dominance of college soccer, one accomplishment eluded them for more than 10 years: Winning the ACC tournament.
MLSsoccer.com's Top 20
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After taking the regular season title, the Tar Heels secured the ACC tournament title on Sunday thanks to a 3-1 win over Boston College. Ben Speas had two goals and an assist in what was UNC’s first ACC postseason title since 2000.
Shortly after, the news got better for the Heels, who earned the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament that begins on Thursday. Here’s how the rest of the MLSsoccer.com Top 20 fared over the weekend:
It came down to the final five minutes of the game, but New Mexico kept their undefeated record intact in the final of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament.
They faced another surprise team in Cal State-Bakersfield. Gyasi Zardes scored in the 84th minute to put New Mexico’s unblemished mark very much in doubt, but just a minute later, a CSUB defender headed a Kyle Venter cross into his own net to tie the game.
After two scoreless overtime periods, the Lobos triumphed in penalty kicks to secure the MPSF tournament title. Despite their unbeaten record, the NCAA tournament selection committee gave New Mexico a bizarrely low No. 10 seed.
Fighting their way into the top 20 this week are Big Ten champions Northwestern. The Wildcats rallied from a 1-0 deficit against Penn State, scoring two unanswered goals to extend their unbeaten streak to 11 games. Their reward in the tournament’s first round is a trip to face defending champions Akron.
While Connecticut was certainly the favorite heading into Sunday’s Big East championship, St. John’s held firm long enough for Jack Bennett to pop up in overtime and score the game-winning goal for the Red Storm off an error in the Huskies' back line.
Creighton’s charmed life under head coach Elmar Bolowich continued as the Bluejays lifted the Missouri Valley Conference trophy on Sunday. Thanks to a 1-0 win over Missouri State, Creighton clinched their 12th MVC crown. The No. 2 seed in the tournament, Creighton’s eight-game winning streak suggests they will be a tough matchup down the road.
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com.