With NCAA tournament spots on the line, the intensity within men’s soccer conference tournaments around the country continues to increase. On Saturday, Akron, Grand Canyon, Hofstra and Army all advanced past top 25 opponents to keep their conference title hopes alive. Here’s everything you need to know about each upset game:
Akron knocks off No. 12 West Virginia 3-1
In the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference tournament on Saturday night, Akron relied on the finesse of freshman Carlo Ritaccio to help the Zips prevail over No. 12 West Virginia 3-1. Though the Mountaineers took the early lead after just 11 seconds of play, Ritaccio evened the score with his first collegiate goal just over 90 seconds later. Fellow freshman Marco Milanese gave the Zips the advantage off a header just before the half, and the Ritaccio hit the game winner in the 66th minute. The Zips, who dominated the Mountaineers offensively with 20 shots to West Virginia’ six shots, will hope to carry this momentum forward as they take on Western Michigan at 1 p.m. on November 11 in the conference title match.
Grand Canyon tops No. 13 Air Force 1-0
With just one goal, the Lopes managed to take down the top-seeded WAC team in the conference tournament, Air Force, and earn a spot in the conference final. The match marked the fifth consecutive win for Grand Canyon, and they will face the sixth seed in the conference tournament, San Jose State, during the championship match on November 11. During the first round of the conference tournament, the Lopes defeated Utah Valley 1-0 and have not given up a single goal throughout the entire conference tournament. The Lopes have also remained unbeaten against all five ranked opponents this year, anchored behind the defensive efforts of goalkeeper George Tasouris, who played in four of the five ranked matches and made a career-high nine saves against Air Force.
Hofstra beats No. 21 UNC-Wilmington 2-1
Down by one goal with just over 10 minutes to play and a bid to the conference finals on the line, Hofstra managed to find the equalizer and the game-winner with efforts from senior Sean Nealis and junior Luke Brown. The Pride outshot the Seahawks 14-8 in the CAA semifinal and hit seven of those shots on goal compared to UNC-Wilmington’s three shots on goal. The win allows Hofstra to advance to the championship game for the seventh time and play against James Madison on November 11 where the Pride will aim to earn their fifth CAA title in program history.
Army beats No. 23 Loyola Maryland 1-0
A late goal from junior Keenan O’Shea lifted Army past top-seeded Patriot League opponent Loyola to earn the Black Knights a ticket to the conference finals. The Greyhounds controlled Army for most of the game, outshooting them 10-7 and generating 12 corners compared to Army’s zero corners, but the Black Knights never let up. Junior goalkeeper Justin Stoll recored five saves in Army’s upset win and helped stop Loyola from earning an eighth consecutive victory. The win also marks the second-consecutive shutout in Patriot League tournament games for Army, the first time a Black Knights team has accomplished such a feat in program history. Army will now play last year’s Patriot League champions Colgate in the conference final on November 11.