Previewing College Cup semifinals
Editor's note: ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman will call the NCAA men's soccer College Cup in Hoover, Ala. Following are his thoughts on Friday's semifinal matchups. The final is Sunday (ESPNU, 2 p.m. ET).
No. 3 Georgetown (19-3-2) vs. No. 2 Maryland (20-1-2)
(ESPNU/WatchESPN, 5 p.m. ET)
This is easily the best Georgetown team I've seen. I immediately look to coach Brian Wiese, who's a disciple of former Stanford coach Bobby Clark. This Hoyas team is a little more of a hybrid of those Cardinal teams -- it's a smart and disciplined team, but it's a bit more proactive and will pressure you defensively. The Hoyas are difficult to break down, but they'll get after you.
The pressure starts up front with forwards Brandon Allen and Steve Neumann. But that's the dilemma. Georgetown doesn't like to pack it in defensively, but can you apply that kind of pressure against Maryland, the most talented team in the country?
You have to continue to do what got you there, but the Hoyas will be up against a Terrapins team that's put together one of the most complete seasons in college soccer.
Sometimes having as much talent as Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski has at his disposal can lead to intrasquad tiffs. You can have all the talent in the world, but you have to keep players happy. But that doesn't seem to be the case with the Terps.
What the Terps need to be mindful of is to not get frustrated if they don't score an early goal and leave channels open for the Hoyas to exploit. Allen, a freshman, is the Hoyas' leading goal scorer and doesn't need a lot of chances.
The Friday-Sunday format favors Maryland because of the Terrapins' depth. Cirovski has one of the deepest teams he's had in a long time, and the ability to keep guys fresh with such a short turnaround will be an advantage if the Terps are able to get past Georgetown.
No. 16 Indiana (14-5-3) vs. No. 12 Creighton (17-3-3)
(ESPNU, 7:30 p.m. ET)
Creighton coach Elmar Bolowich has finally found the system he wanted. The Bluejays started the season 5-3-2 and played a bunch of different starting lineups, but they enter Friday's matchup against the Hoosiers unbeaten in their last 14 games.
Their back four is very good and their two defensive midfielders in front of that back four are good, poised leaders. They got a little bit of luck in getting here -- beating Akron on penalty kicks and UConn with a late goal -- but those are very difficult places to go and get a win. You have to get lucky at times, but a lot of times you make your own luck. Creighton is doing that right now.
I don't think this team compares to last year's College Cup team. They don't have what every other team in this year's Cup has, which is a goal scorer. They relied heavily on forward Ethan Finlay last year. Maybe that's the difference this year.
For Indiana, it was a huge confidence boost to get past No. 1 overall seed Notre Dame in the Sweet 16. You had to wonder what was wrong; the third round had been such a hump for the Hoosiers in recent tournaments.
Indiana followed up that win over the Fighting Irish by beating defending champion North Carolina 1-0 in the quarterfinals, avenging last season's NCAA tournament third-round loss. Indiana coach Todd Yeagley, a former Hoosier player himself, said he noticed the "IU mentality" returning to his team.
This is a pretty dynamic team, and in looking at their matchup against Creighton it's simple to see the difference between the two: IU has a game-changer in sophomore forward Eriq Zavaleta. He has scored 18 goals this season and, alongside players such as Nikita Kotlov and A.J. Corrado, provides a difficult matchup for opposing teams.
I think the Achilles' heel for the Hoosiers is when they don't play as a unit and fall into the habit of defending with five and attacking with five. Creighton might be able to exploit that. As far as finding a potential turning point in the game, well, I don't know. These are two teams that are almost identical; you might as well grab a mirror and look at it, which almost makes it easier to prepare.
The biggest difference I can see is that Creighton doesn't have that prototypical No. 9 striker. Will that be the difference?
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Capital One Cup
CAPITAL ONE CUP
The Capital One Cup rewards the best Division I men's and women's programs in the country for their on-field performance throughout the year. For more information about the Cup, visit capitalonecup.com.
Race for the Cup
North Carolina leads the women's standings for the Capital One Cup after claiming the women's soccer College Cup, and Indiana moved into first place in the men's standings after winning the men's soccer College Cup in Hoover, Ala.