Not much was expected from James Madison in soccer this fall. The Dukes were picked last in the Colonial Athletic Association, where they finished sixth. They never won more than two games in a row during the regular season.
But they put together a memorable run in the conference tournament, beating the three teams that tied for the Colonial regular-season title on three shutouts. And here they are in the NCAA men’s tournament sizing up an upset of North Carolina, which was ranked as high as No. 1 this season and currently stands No. 16.
Don’t expect the Dukes to back down when they take on the Tar Heels at 7 p.m. Thursday at Fetzer Field. They own a 3-2 record all-time against UNC, and the last time they played – two years ago – UNC was ranked No. 1 in the nation, yet lost to the Dukes in Harrisonburg, Va., 1-0.
JMU’s key player in its Colonial sweep was senior defender Daniel Simpson, named the most outstanding player of the tournament. He was joined on the all-tournament team by junior defender Bjarki Adalsteinsson and redshirt sophomore forward Connor Coward, whose goal beat Delaware 1-0 in the title game.
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The only other ACC team playing in Thursday’s 16 first-round games is Wake Forest (10-7-1), which hosts Maryland-Baltimore County (12-5-3). Five ACC teams received byes and will host games Sunday. No. 1 Notre Dame gets Akron (13-6-1) or Ohio State (9-7-4). No. 7 Clemson (11-6-3) draws Coastal Carolina (15-5-1) or Florida Gulf Coast (8-6-5). No. 9 Syracuse (15-3-1) faces Hartwick (6-9-4) or Penn State (12-5-1). No. 13 Louisville has Tulsa (11-5-3) or Saint Louis (13-4-2). And No. 16 Virginia (10-6-2) awaits UNC Wilmington (12-4-2) or Bucknell (10-9-3).
The third round will be played Nov. 30, with the quarterfinals Dec. 5 or 6. The College Cup, soccer’s final four, is set for Dec. 12-14 at WakeMed Soccer Park,
ACC advances: No. 2 North Carolina, which shut out South Dakota State 2-0 in the first round, will have plenty of ACC company this week in the NCAA women’s tournament. The ACC went 5-0-1 and outscored its opponents by a combined 20-0. Only Clemson failed to advance, when No. 3 South Carolina prevailed on penalty kicks after they tied 0-0.
Two ACC results were especially notable. No. 4 Notre Dame edged Valparaiso 1-0 on a goal by Kaleigh Olmsted with 50 seconds left in regulation. And No. 2 Virginia’s Morgan Brian tied an NCAA tournament and school record with five assists as the Cavaliers drubbed High Point 8-0. Brian also had a goal to tie the school single-game points record of seven, despite playing only 33 minutes.
No. 1 Florida State shut out South Alabama 5-0, and Virginia Tech blanked Dayton 4-0 in the other games.
Three of the five ACC women’s teams still playing will host second- and third-round subregionals this weekend. UNC (13-3-2) welcomes Colorado (14-6-1) at 7 p.m. Friday, with the winner taking on the winner of South Carolina (13-5-4) and Seattle (15-4-2). Florida State (19-1-1) hosts Northeastern (15-4-3), with No. 4 Wisconsin (19-2-2) and Central Florida (17-4) in the other bracket. Virginia (19-2) is at home with Rutgers (13-5-1), with No. 3 Kentucky (15-6-1) and Arizona State (12-5-4) also on tap.
No. 4 Notre Dame (13-5-2) plays Texas, with the winner getting either No. 1 and host Texas A&M (18-2-2) or Arizona (11-7-2). Virginia Tech (15-5) plays Georgetown (11-4-6) and should advance to play the winner between No. 2 Penn State (18-3), the host, and Connecticut (14-4-5). The Hokies had no trouble with the Hoyas during the regular season, dispatching them 6-1 on Sept. 5.
All of the subregionals are Friday/Sunday formats.
Favorites move on: Only one of the 16 seeded teams fell in the first round of the NCAA women’s tournament last weekend. That was West Virginia of the Big 12, the major conference that took the biggest hit.
The No. 3 seed Mountaineers were ousted by Georgetown on penalty kicks, setting up the rematch with Virginia Tech. Two other No. 3 seeds advanced via shootouts – South Carolina over Clemson and Kentucky over Southern Illinois-Edwardsville – as did No. 4 Pepperdine over Southern California.
Seven other teams lost first-round matches at home – Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas, South Florida, Washington State, Boston University and Florida Gulf Coast. None of them was eyebrow-raising.
If you’re keeping score, the Pac-12 advanced seven of its nine teams and has all three of its seeds left. Seven of eight SEC teams and five of six in the ACC moved on, and each has all four seeds remaining. Only two of six Big 12 teams survived, with one of its two seeds left, and the Big Ten was 3-0 and has both of its seeds still playing.
Pathman back with Breakers: The Boston Breakers announced Monday that the team has re-signed former Duke standout Mollie Pathman for the 2015 NWSL season.
Pathman started 18 of 21 games last year as a rookie for the Breakers, who selected her in the third round, 23rd overall, of the 2014 College Draft.
The forward/defender played with Cypriot First Division champion Apollon Limassol in the offseason and appeared in two UEFA Women’s Champions League matches.
The two-time All-ACC pick was a member of the 2012 gold medal-winning U.S. team in the U20 World Cup. Pathman ranks third all-time in assists at Duke with 29 and started 83 of 87 career games.