Columbus Crew coach Sigi Schmid will face a dilemma if the Crew wins the MLS Cup on Sunday at the Home Depot Center. Does he return with the Crew for its celebrations back home or does he stay in Southern California to watch his son, Kyle, play for Big West champion UC Irvine on Tuesday in the second round of the NCAA Division I Men's Tournament? The Anteaters are one of three teams making their first appearance in the NCAA Division I Men's Tournament. Atlantic-10 champ Dayton also earned an automatic berth, while Missouri Valley regular-season runner-up Drake took an at-large bid.
UC IRVINE (vs. Cal Poly-UCLA winner Tuesday). Two years ago, the Anteaters needed to only beat Cal State Northridge in their season finale to wrap up the Big West title and claim its automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. They lost, 1-0, and were -- to everyone's surprise -- denied an at-large bid.
This year, UCI didn't leave anything to chance. It scored on its first four shots and rolled past UC Santa Barbara, 4-2, in the Big West final before a crowd of 1,832, the largest in Anteater Stadium history.
The Anteater attack has caught fire since Irving Garcia was moved from midfield to the frontline. It has scored 16 goals in its last seven games and extended its unbeaten streak to 10 days.
The Anteaters are led by midfielder Matt Murphy with 11 goals and eight assists. Murphy, the Anteaters' all-time leading scorer, has gotten help from sophomore Spencer Thompson (10 goals, 5 assists) and Garcia (4 goals, 8 assists). Rafael Macedo added two goals against UCSB.
The defense is led by senior defender David Sias, the Big West Defensive Player of the Year, and goalkeeper Andrew Fontein, the Big West Co-Freshman of the Year. (Head coach George Kuntz was named Big West Coach of the Year.)
Murphy, Sias, Garcia and Thompson were first-team All-Big West picks. Macedo and Fontein were joined by a pair of UCI transfers on the second team. Kyle Schmid, a senior, started his college career at Washington. Shane Westbrook, also a senior, previously played at Boston University.
DAYTON (at UIC Friday). The Flyers won the Atlantic-10 title for third title when they beat UMass, 1-0, in the final, but this is the first time they will play in the NCAA Tournament proper. In 1997 and 1998, the Flyers competed in the play-in game. They lost to Rider in double overtime in 1997 and fell, 1-0, to Lafayette in 1998.
Dayton has tied a school record for goals with 46 this season.
Junior Alex Torda leads the Flyers with 10 goals. He came on strong in Atlantic 10 play where he scored seven of his 10 goals.
Senior Florian DeCamps had an especially productive Atlantic-10 tournament, scoring three goals, including two game-winners that give him a team-high six for the season.
DRAKE (at Saint Louis Friday). The Bulldogs were rewarded for their excellent regular season -- a school record 13 wins -- to earn their first tournament bid since the launch of the program in 1986.
Drake, the only Division I men's program in Iowa, is averaging 2.06 goals a game to rank 13th in the nation. Junior Garrett Webb leads the Bulldogs with 22 points.
He is by three All-Missouri Valley first-team picks in midfield -- Matt Kuhn, Ryan Moylan and Kevin Shrout.