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No. 1 ranked and top seed Duke will be favored when it hosts UCLA Sunday
afternoon in the NCAA Division I men's quarterfinals at Koskinen
Stadium, but it faces a formidable opponent in the streaking Bruins.
Indeed, UCLA put on one of the best performances yet by a team in the
2006 postseason with its 3-0 dismantling of ninth-seed Clemson in the
After struggling through much of the regular season -- it finished
Pac-10 play with a four-game winless streak -- UCLA is peaking at the
right time. The Bruins have looked great in the postseason with former
U-17 star Kyle Nakazawa moved
up front with fellow freshman David
Estrada (10 goals) and Sal
Zizzo and Jason Leopoldo
working the wings.
The Bruins' season didn't go as planned. Coach Jorge Salcedo first lost Kamani Hill (who didn't enroll in
school and has since signed with German club Wolfsburg) and former U-17
captain Brandon Owens (knee
injury in the offseason), and then Maxwell
Griffin and Tony Beltran,
a transfer from St. John's, who were both injured in the Pac-10 opener
against Cal. Griffin is out for the season with a knee injury, but
Beltran has returned in midfield. Nakazawa, Zizzo and Beltran were
sensational in the third-round victory over Clemson.
Duke earned its No. 1 seed with its second consecutive ACC title
and has shut out both its NCAA Tournament opponents. The Blue Devils
have one of the most balanced attacks in the country. Mike Grella leads six players in
double figures in points with 31
points (13 goals and five assists), followed by Spencer Wadsworth with 27 (seven
13 assists) and Mike Videira
with 22 (eight goals and six assists).
VIRGINIA-NOTRE DAME. This
season marks Notre Dame's first trip to the quarterfinals, though Coach
also took Dartmouth to the quarters in 1990 and 1992 and then led
Stanford there in 1998 and 2000. "Not to sound greedy," says Clark, "we
can't be content on just making it this far. We
have to take it another step, and this team has that potential." The
Irish is led by Joseph Lapira,
the nation's leading scorer with 22 goals and 49 points, including the
that knocked off defending champion Maryland in the third round. Irish
senior Chris Cahill helped
keep the Irish in the game against Maryland with several early saves
before being injured late in the first half. Sophomore Andrew Quinn came on in Cahill's
place and shut down the Terrapins.
The Cavs counter with multiple weapons: Yannick Revering (11 goals and eight
Colaluca (seven goals and eight assists) and Adam Cristman (eight goals and five
assists). This is George Gelnovatch's
sixth trip to the quarterfinals since taking over as Virginia coach
from Bruce Arena in 1996,
but Virginia has lost the last four times (1998, 1999, 2000 and 2005).
"There will be a lot of pressure on them and possibly more pressure
will be on them than on us," says Clark.
WAKE FOREST-SANTA CLARA. It's
been quite a year for the Demon
Deacons, reaching the final eight for the first time, advancing to the
ACC Tournament final for the first time since 1991 and winning a school
record 17 games. Senior Steven Curfman
is one of the country's most dangerous players on set pieces. He scored
the game-winner against Towson in the third round to go with his two
Hofstra in the second round. Sophomore Marcus
Tracy's pace makes him a weapon, while freshman Zack Schilawski is a threat in the
Santa Clara's Broncos have recovered from losing 11 lettermen --
including star Medhi Ballouchy
-- to make their sixth appearance in the quarterfinals. Stephen McCarthy, a mainstay
throughout the year in the midfield, was
the Co-WCC Freshman of the Year. Three of the team's
top five scorers are first-year players -- Amaechi Igwe, Brian
Martin and Sean Danzeiser
-- while sophomore Joseph Buttitta
has impressed in his first year as the starting goalkeeper.
UC SANTA BARBARA-NORTHWESTERN. Two
year ago in the quarterfinals, UCSB beat VCU before a crowd of 11,214
at Harder Stadium -- an NCAA record for a non-final four tournament
game. After beating SMU and Old Dominion on the road, the Gauchos
return to Harder Stadium Saturday night for a quarterfinal match
against Northwestern -- and another big crowd is expected. Former U-17
resident Eric Avila has been
one of the hottest players in the postseason. He had a goal and an
assist in the 3-1 victory over No. 3 seed SMU and the winning goal --
on a rebound of his own PK miss -- in the 2-1 victory over ODU.
The Wildcats are the only Big Ten team remaining in the NCAA Tournament
after beating UNC Greensboro, 2-1, in the round of 16 behind a penalty
kick by Brian Usinger, a
rocket goal by Gerardo Alvarez
and the outstanding play of Justin
Pines in goal. The Wildcats' big threats are senior Brad North and junior David Roth, who lead the team with
eight goals apiece.
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