The 48-team field for the NCAA Division 1 men's soccer tournament was unveiled on Monday afternoon and while it's light on teams from the Philadelphia region there are a number of players with experience playing for the Philadelphia Union Academy in the mix.
The tournament field consists of 16 nationally seeded teams with first-round byes and 32 teams that will meet in first round games on Thursday.
No. 1 Wake Forest (15-2-2)
Wake Forest earned the top seed in the tournament despite losing to Notre Dame in the semifinals of the ACC Championship. The best team in the strongest conference in the nation, Wake Forest ended the regular season with five straight wins and nine wins in their last 11 games. The Demon Deacons were second in the nation in scoring offense at 2.37 goals per game and fifth in defense with .56 goals against.
Freshman Jack Harrison, the ACC Offensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, leads the team in scoring with eight goals and 11 assists and Jacori Hayes was clutch with five game-winning goals. Ian Harkes, son of USMNT legend John Harkes, Harrison and Hayes were all named to First-Team All-ACC for the season and junior goalkeeper Alec Ferrell and senior midfielder Michael Gamble made the second team. Sophomore forward Jon Bakero was on the third team and midfielder Brad Dunwell joined Harrison on the All-Freshman Team.
No. 2 Clemson (15-2-2)
Like top-seeded Wake Forest, Clemson earned the second seed despite losing to ACC Conference Championship winners Syracuse 2-0 in the semifinals. The loss ended an eight-game winning streak for the Tigers, which rank fifth in the nation in scoring offense at 2.26 goals per game.
The team is led by ACC Midfielder of the Year Paul Clowes, ACC Defensive Player of the Year Kyle Fisher, junior goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell Jr. and senior forward TJ Casner. Tarbell and Casner were both first-team All-ACC and defender Iman Mafi Jr. was on the third team.
No. 3 Georgetown (15-2-2)
The Hoyas sputtered out of the gate with two losses and a scoreless draw to open the season, but they've been flying high ever since with 15 wins in their last 16 games en route to a perfect 9-0-0 regular season in the Big East and two more wins to capture the program's first-ever Big East Tournament title.
The Hoyas are led by Big East Defensive Player of the Year Joshua Yaro, a junior center back who is one of the top pro prospects in college soccer, senior forward Brandon Allen, a New York Red Bulls Academy product who has 49 career goals and Big East Freshman of the Year JT Marcincowski, a goalkeeper out of the San Jose Earthquakes Academy system. Allen, midfielder Arun Basuljevic and Marcincowski made All-Big East first team while junior forward Alex Muyl, senior midfielder/defender Joshua Turnley and senior defenders Keegan Rosenberry and Cole Seiler made the second team.
Rosenberry is one of four players on the team with experience playing for the Philadelphia Union Academy. Junior forward Brett Campbell, senior midfielder Melvin Snoh and junior midfielder Jon Azzinnari are the others.
No. 4 Akron (15-3-2)
If you watch Major League Soccer at all, you know the impact Akron has had on the pro game. This year, the Zips made a dent in the college game as well, making mincemeat out of their Mid-American Conference opponents, but scoring four wins over fellow tournament opponents Georgetown, Maryland, Santa Clara and UC Santa Barbara as well. The Zips are led on offense junior Adam Najem (9 goals, 8 assists), sophomore Richie Laryea (9 goals, 5 assists) and sophomore Sam Gainford (8 goals, 7 assists) and also have weapons in Brazilian Victor Souto (6 goals, 3 assists) and New Zealander Stuart Holthusen (5 goals, 5 assists). Goalkeeper Jake Fenlason and the defense pitched eight shutouts on the season.
No. 5 North Carolina (14-1-3)
North Carolina stormed out of the gate winning 11 of their first 12 games before losing to Wake Forest and were knocked out of the ACC Tournament after a draw with Syracuse on penalty kicks.
The Tar Heels are led by senior defender and first team All-ACC selection Jonathan Campbell, Jamaica international midfielder Omar Holness, senior midfielder Raby George and junior forward Tucker Hume, who leads the team with 10 goals as a reserve forward. Philadelphia Union Academy alumni on the team include starting defender Colton Storm, who has a pair of goals and three assists and freshmen Sean Wilson and Will Campbell. Wilson has made only two appearances this season and Campbell has yet to make his debut.
No. 6 Syracuse (13-5-3)
The Orange won their first conference tournament since 1985 with a 1-0 win over Notre Dame on Sunday as a seventh seed, the lowest seed to ever win the competition. They knocked off fifth seed North Carolina on penalties and topped seventh seed Notre Dame and second seed Clemson to win the trophy.
They are led by sophomore midfielder Julian Buescher, a first-team All-ACC selection and junior college transfer Ben Polk, who scored three goals in the ACC tournament and leads the team with 10. Freshmen Morgan Hackworth and Chris Gomez both played for the Philadelphia Union Academy and redshirt sophomore Kenny Lassiter spent time with the Union Academy in the 2011 Generation Adidas Cup. Hackworth has been limited to six appearances and one start in his first season, Gomez has not made his debut yet and Lassiter has a goal and an assist in 15 appearances and 1 start.
No. 7 Notre Dame (11-4-5)
The 2014 national champions were not always fun to watch this season, but long-time head coach Bobby Clark is a mastermind on the sidelines will have his team prepared for another tournament run. The Fighting Irish are led by All-ACC second team selections Patrick Hodan Sr. and defender Max Lachowecki and sophomore forward Jon Gallagher. Harry Shipp's younger brother Michael Shipp is a starter at right back and Philadelphia Union Academy alumnus Patrick Berneski is a reserve center back whose made 7 appearances and 5 starts in his sophomore season.
No. 8 Stanford (14-2-2)
Call it East Coast bias if you want, but Stanford probably deserved a higher seed than eight in the tournament after posting a 14-2-2 record and winning the Pac-12 title outright. They also have the highest profile collegiate in the nation in USMNT forward Jordan Morris, who has 8 goals and 2 assists in 13 matches with the Cardinal. The Cardinal attack runs through Eric Verson (1 goal, 11 assists) and Corey Baird (2 goals, 8 assists) and the back line is led by the talented left back Brandon Vincent, who has four goals from the penalty spot. Foster Langsdorf benefits from the attention Morris must be paid with 6 goals and 2 assists and freshman Amir Bashti, a San Jose Earthquakes Academy product, is a star in the making off the bench.
No. 9 Ohio State (13-6-2)
The Buckeyes won the regular season Big Ten title and lost in the tournament final to Maryland on Sunday. A hard-nosed team with experience all over the pitch, Ohio State has the kind of makeup that could see them either make a deep run in the tournament or go one and done. Senior midfielder Kyle Culbertson, a first-team Big Ten selection, is their leader on offense and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Liam Doyle is a force on both sides of the ball with his physicality and skill taking free kicks. Goalkeeper Chris Froschauer won Goalkeeper of the Year in a conference that has produced its fair share of keepers.
No. 10 Maryland (10-5-5)
The Terps struggled for parts of the season in part because of injuries and in part because as talented as they are they are young. Freshman forward Sebastian Elney, who played for the Philadelphia Union Academy U-18 team last season, was one of the best of the incoming class, leading the team with seven goals and two assists en route to being named second team All-Big Ten. Senior midfielder Mael Corboz, a first-team selection, is their leader but senior midfielder Tsubasa Endoh is a threat to create something nearly every time he's on the ball. Defensively, they have a tree in Alex Crognale, and a weapon on both sides of the field in Chris Odoi-Atsem. Freshman forward Eryk Williamson, a D.C. United product, is starting to find his footing with two goals and an assist in his last three games.
No. 11 Seattle (17-1-3)
If you're looking for a Cinderella team from outside the big conferences to make a deep run in the tournament, look to Seattle. Tied for the nation's lead with 17 wins, the RedHawks captured both the regular season and tournament championships in the WAC. They are led by one of the nation's top goalscorers in David Olsen, goalkeeper Shane Haworth and senior midfielder Hamza Haddadi, who just returned to the lineup after missing nine games.
No. 12 Creighton (17-3)
After starting the season 15-0-0, Creighton has been on a decline of late with three losses in their last five games, but two of those were to a team (Georgetown) that didn't lose a game in conference all season so a 12 seed seems a bit harsh for the Blue Jays, who are led by Hermann Trophy favorite Fabian Herbers (15 goals, 12 assists), midfielder Timo Pitter (8 goals, 3 assists) and goalkeeper Connor Sparrow (8 shutouts). They are seventh in the nation in scoring offense with 2.25 goals per game and had one of the stingiest defenses before the recent slide.
No. 13 Denver (15-0-3)
Denver lost head coach Bobby Muuss, but his former assistant Jamie Franks hasn't skipped a beat leading the Pioneers to the only unbeaten season in Division 1 this year. Sure, the Pioneers play in the Summit League, but going unbeaten in any league is a feat worthy of respect. They are led by Summit League goalkeeper of the year Dan Jackson and midfielders Sam Hamilton, Seattle Sounders Academy alum Jordan Schweitzer and Colorado Rapids Academy alum Karsten Hanlin. As a team, they are first in the nation allowing just .37 goals per game.
No. 14 South Florida (11-5-3)
The Bulls were a bit of a surprise national seed since they didn't win the regular season title or make the American Athletic Conference tournament final but the win over Georgetown early in the season must have been enough to earn them the seed. They are led by junior forward Nazeem Bartman, senior defender Brendan Hines-Ike and junior midfielder Lindo Mfeka, who were all named to the American Athletic first team.
No. 15 UC Santa Barbara (13-6-2)
The 2006 national champions have one of the best fanbases and goalscorers in all of college soccer. Junior Nick DePuy repeated as Big West Offensive Player of the Year and has a chance to win the golden boot this season just one behind the nation's leader Gordon Wild with 15 on the season. The Gauchos are led on the sidelines by Tim Vom Steeg, who picked up his fifth conference Coach of the Year this season and have one of the most talented freshman in the nation in Big West Freshman of the Year Geoffrey Acheampong.
No. 16 Indiana (12-4-3)
It wouldn't feel right having an NCAA Tournament and not including Indiana. The eight-time national champions are making the tournament for the 29th straight year and the 39th time overall. They are led by Big Ten midfielder of the year Tanner Thompson (3 goals, 9 assists), one of the best target forwards in the nation in senior Femi Hollinger-Janzen (8 goals, 5 assists) and defender Grant Lillard (4 goals, 5 assists). They also have a pair of talented freshman in Andrew Gutman and Francesco Moore and Philadelphia Union Academy alumnus Billy McConnell, a starting right back who has a goal and four assists.
Charlotte (10-5-3) vs Radford (14-3-2)
Charlotte has one of the nation's best forwards in Kyle Parker (12 goals, 3 assists), but tourney debutant Radford is fifth in the nation in scoring offense with 2.26 goals per game. Winner plays No. 1 Wake Forest.
UConn (9-5-6) vs Boston (12-5-2)
The Huskies have been unbeaten in their last eight games (losing on penalties counts as a draw) and have an on-fire freshman forward in Abdou Thiam (11 goals), but the Terriers are led by Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year David Asbjornsson and Goalkeeper of the Year Matt Gilbert. Winner plays Indiana.
Dayton (13-5-3) vs Oakland (10-8-1)
Dayton leads the nation with 2.62 goals per game and has scored four or more goals in a game seven times this season. They take on an Oakland team that is tied with UCLA for the most losses of any team in the tournament field. Winner takes on Ohio State.
Cal State Fullerton (13-7-1) vs Santa Clara (10-7-1)
The Titans won the Big West tournament with a win over UC Santa Barbara and will face a Santa Clara team they beat 2-1 on September 6 for a chance to play Stanford. Santa Clara senior goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh has experience playing for U.S. U-20 national team.
Coastal Carolina (12-2-4) vs North Florida (10-6-1)
The Chants have been in the top 25 all season, but have struggled of late, needing an at-large bid to make the field. They take on a first-time tournament entry in North Florida that is firing on all cylinders, having outscored opponents 11-1 in their last three matches. Winner faces North Carolina.
Kentucky (12-4-2) vs Drake (12-4-3)
I was surprised Kentucky didn't earn a national seed - their loss in the Conference USA semifinals didn't help - because they have been a proven winner this season. They are led by Vancouver Whitecaps Academy product Callum Irving, one of the top goalkeepers in the nation, and midfield maestro Napo Matsoso. Drake shocked SIU Edwardsville in the MVC tournament final to earn the auto-bid. Winner will face Creighton.
SMU (13-2-4) vs Utah Valley (14-5-2)
The Mustangs won the regular season American Athletic title and are led by conference Offensive Player of the Year Mauro Cichero (6 goals, 3 assists). Utah Valley is making their first appearance in the tournament with an at-large bid. Winner plays Denver.
Rutgers (12-6-1) vs LIU Brooklyn (11-5-4)
The Scarlet Knights have one of the most dynamic forwards in the nation in Jamaican Jason Wright, the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year (13 goals, 4 assists) and LIU Brooklyn has Philadelphia Union Academy alumnus Logan Keys, who was named Northeast Conference Tournament MVP and made the conference second team. Winner plays Akron.
Boston College (9-7-1) vs Vermont (11-6-3)
The Eagles were a bit of a surprise in the tournament field as the seventh ACC team but they had wins over SMU, UConn, Virginia and Syracuse. Vermont dashed Darius Madison and UMBC’s tournament hopes when they beat them in the America East semifinals en route to capturing the tournament championship and automatic bid.
Hofstra (13-7-0) vs Lehigh (13-5-3)
The Pride have been a regular in the top 25 polls this season since their early season upset of Syracuse while Lehigh is one of only two teams in the Philadelphia region in the tournament field and have Union Academy alum Doyle Tuvesson (4 goals, 6 assists).
UCLA (10-8-1) vs Cal Poly (11-4-5)
The Bruins are loaded with talent but struggled in the early part of the season, dropping all the way from a No. 1 preseason ranking out of the polls but they have been on an upswing lately with one of the biggest talents in college soccer, Abu Danladi leading the way (6 goals, 10 assists) and dynamic freshmen Jose Hernandez (11 goals, 4 assists) and Jackson Yueill (7 goals, 5 assists). Cal Poly is used to playing big games - they played UC Santa Barbara to a win and a draw in front of the two biggest crowds of the regular season. Winner plays Seattle.
Dartmouth (11-5-1) vs Hartwick (11-5-3)
Dartmouth won the Ivy League, edging out Harvard and Hartwick quietly dominated their conference en route to earning the automatic berth. Dartmouth sophomore Matthew Greer is a Philadelphia Union Academy alumnus.
Tulsa (7-6-6) vs FIU (12-6-1)
Tulsa earned the automatic bid by beating UConn on penalties and is led by conference Defender of the Year Bradley Borgeois and dynamic freshman Juan Sebastian Sanchez. FIU beat Kentucky and Marshall to win the Conference USA bid. Winner plays Notre Dame.
Virginia (9-4-3) vs Rider (14-5-1)
The Hoos won it all last year playing defensively and like last year are a bit off the radar again entering the tournament. They take on a Rider team that advanced to the tournament for the first time since 1998. Winner plays Maryland.
South Carolina (11-7-1) vs Furman (8-5-5)
Don't let the Gamecocks record fool you. They are a team that can do some damage in this tournament. They just have to get past Southern Conference tournament champs Furman, which beat them 2-1 in an exhibition match way back in August. Winner plays UC Santa Barbara.
Elon (13-5-1) vs Winthrop (10-6-2)
The Phoenix have struggled of late after a great start to the season but still earned an at-large bid, where they will face a Winthrop team that has only lost once since mid-September. Elon defender Jonathan Wenger has experience playing with the Philadelphia Union Academy. Winner faces Clemson.