Soccer: Cinderella coming to town
If USF's men's soccer team can win Saturday night against upset-crazy UNC-Greensboro, they will have gone as far as any Bulls soccer team in the program's history by reaching the NCAAs' "Elite Eight." To do so, they'll have to stop UNC-G's wild ride that has seen the Spartans win as many games in the post-season (five) as they did in the regular season.
UNC-G, you see, was 5-11-2 when the Spartans started the Southern Conference tournament. Their first win came only because of an own goal on a corner kick and a game-winner from midfield. The next win came on penalty kicks, but the Spartans kept winning, getting the Southern's automatic bid to the NCAAs -- again, UNC-G was 2-5 in conference during the season, 3-0 in the tournament.
They're just the sixth team in 50 years of the NCAA soccer tournament to make the field with a losing record. They haven't just made the field -- they've knocked off Duke and ninth-seeded Loyola (Md.) -- rallying from a goal down in the final 20 minutes in Baltimore. Now they're 10-11-2, and it's worth noting that their coach, Michael Parker, who has six national championships at the Division III and Division II levels, has never had a losing record in 32 years of coaching.
USF is 10-0-1 at home this season and should have another strong crowd Saturday night, even while playing directly opposite the men's basketball team. ESPN.com's preview of the NCAA Sweet 16 seems to think the Bulls can end Cinderella's run in Tampa. Win there, and a trip to top-seeded Wake Forest would likely be next, which could put USF in the Cinderella role ...