One thing you can count on in the NCAA Tournament is upsets, but upset isn’t even the right word to describe what a scrappy, counterattacking Providence team pulled off on Sunday night in College Park.
Down 4-1 to the mighty Terps, a Friars team that has been without two of its best players all season - Dom Machado and Mac Steeves - stunned the crowd at Ludwig Field and soccer fans nationwide with a comeback for the ages.
Senior Julian Gressel started the rally for Providence in the 70th minute with his second goal of the night - and 14th of the season - to cut Maryland’s lead to 4-2, and that’s pretty much when the wheels came off for Maryland. Three more goals over a 12-minute period by Nick Sailor, Steven Kilday and Joao Serrano (off a corner kick) put Providence through to the third round and left Sasho Cirovski’s squad and more than 3,000 in attendance reeling.
An absolutely stunning result no matter how you look at it, the loss leaves Denver as the remaining hope for an undefeated national champion. Denver second-year head coach Jamie Franks, a South Jersey native, picked up his first NCAA Tournament victory and the first for the program since 1970 in a 3-0 win over UNLV.
In other second round action Sunday, Philadelphia Union Academy alum Billy McConnell (Richboro, Pa.) scored in the 54th minute to lead Indiana to a 1-0 win over Akron.
The Zips were the only 2015 College Cup team to not advance to the third round. Defending champs Stanford got goals from Foster Langsdorf and Tomas Hilliard-Arce to beat tournament newcomers Pacific, Sergio Camargo had two goals and an assist to lead Syracuse to a 3-0 win over Dartmouth in the snow and Alex Happi sent Clemson through with an overtime winner to beat South Carolina 2-1.
SIU Edwardsville was a minor surprise compared to Providence after advancing on penalties against Butler while the nine-team strong ACC’s only second round casualty was last-team-in Boston College. Albany showed their worthiness of a national seed and first-round bye with a 3-0 win over the Eagles thanks to goals from Bernardo Mattos, Nico Solabarrieta and Afonso Pinheiro and a seven-save clean sheet from Danny Vitiello.
Pablo Aguilar had the goal of the tournament so far in overtime to give Virginia the 2-1 win over 10-men Vermont. Philadelphia Union Academy grad Raheem Taylor-Parkes got the start in the match and played 76 minutes for the Hoos.
ACC powers North Carolina and Notre Dame both had their hands full with tricky matchups against smaller conference foes. Jon Gallagher’s 78th minute strike was the difference in a 1-0 win for the Irish over Loyola Chicago and the Tar Heels got an overtime winner from Tucker Hume, his second of the game, to outlast a dangerous Florida Gulf Coast team.
Colton Storm (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) played all 110 minutes for the Tar Heels and former Philadelphia Union Academy midfielder Jack Skahan played 14 minutes off the bench.
Louisville, the fourth overall seed, needed overtime to survive the potent UCLA attack. Jack Gayton put the Cards up inside three minutes off an assist from defender Tim Kubel, but Abu Danladi drew things level in the second half.
Fortunate to go to overtime with UCLA getting the better chances and even more fortunate not to lose it early into the extra period, Danny Reynolds found Tate Schmitt with a long cross for the game-winner in the 94th minute. Bruins goalkeeper Kevin Silva (Bethlehem, Pa.) made eight saves on the day.
Wake Forest got goals from Jacori Hayes and Luis Argudo to knock off Coastal Carolina while Andreu Cases Mundet had a pair of saves filling in for Alec Ferrell in goal.
Conference USA didn’t fair too well with both of their seeded teams - Kentucky and Charlotte falling by 3-2 scorelines to Creighton and Virginia Tech.
Rounding out the results, Washington exploded for three second half goals to put New Mexico away after falling behind in the 22nd minute on a Patrick Khouri. Justin Schmidt scored the equalizer for the Huskies in the 28th minute and Scott Menzies, Elijah Rice and Beau Blanchard all tallied in the second half.
NCAA Tournament action continues on Saturday and Sunday.