The Niagara Purple Eagles will be making their first trip to the NCAA Tournament in the program’s 43 year history when the Purple Eagles clash with the University of Michigan in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament on Thursday, Nov. 15 at the U-M Soccer Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
NCAA Tourney 101
The tournament format features 48 teams in the single-elimination tournament. Twenty-two teams receive automatic berths, while the remaining 26 teams received at-large selections. The top 16 seeds of the tournament receive first-round byes and will play the winner of the Thursday (Nov. 15) matches on Sunday (Nov. 18). The 2012 NCAA Men’s College Cup will be held from Dec. 7-9 at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala.
The winner of the NU vs. U-M contest will face No. 5 Akron in the second round.
Long Time Coming
Niagara becomes the first Western New York team since Buffalo State (‘70) to make it to the Division I NCAA Tournament.
Last Time Out
Senior Bryan Da Cruz lifted the Niagara men’s soccer team to a 1-0 overtime victory over top-seeded Loyola (Md.) Greyhounds in the 2012 MAAC Tournament Final on Nov. 10 to earn the program’s first ever MAAC title and first berth into the NCAA tournament.
Micah Paulino jump started the game-winning play as the sophomore dribbled up the right wing, and flicked a short pass to Da Cruz. The senior, who has three game-winning goals on the season thus far, took a shot from 12-yards out that beat Loyola keeper Thurman Van Riper near post.
Scouting The Wolverines
U-M enter the tournament as an at-large bid holding a 10-9-1 overall record, and a 3-2-1 mark in the Big-10 Conference. The team is 5-1-0 in its last six matches, with the most recent loss coming in the Big Ten Tournament Finals, where the Michigan State Spartans dropped the Wolverines 2-1 in overtime.
This is the fifth time the team has been selected to participate in the tourney, and the second time in the previous three seasons. The Wolverines are 7-4 all-time in the tournament, including a 3-0 mark all-time in first-round contests.
U-M will be welcoming Niagara to its home turf with a 7-3-1 home record. The Wolverines boast several offensive threats in Tyler Arnone (5-4-14), and Fabio Pereira (3-8-14). Michigan also has additional depth with T.J. Roehn has who four goals and four assists thus far, and James Murphy (3-2-8).
Between the posts for U-M will be Adam Grinwis who has played every minute for the Wolverines. In 20 games, the red-shirted sophomore has made 90 saves for a 1.11 goals-against average and a .796 save percentage.
All-Time Verses Michigan
NU has never faced the Wolverines in program history.
Seniors Finding Redemption
Four years ago, seniors Bryan Da Cruz, Rene De Zorzi, Mike Cunningham, Billy Cecere, Ben Thorne and Jacob Vertel were denied their first-ever MAAC Championship as freshmen after a 1-0 double-overtime defeat to No. two seed Loyola on Nov. 15, 2009. The six Purple Eagles were able to exact revenge on the Greyhounds with their own 1-0 double-overtime victory in the 2012 MAAC title game.
Unbeaten In Five
With the win over Loyola on Nov. 10, NU extended its winning streak to five games, with four of those victories coming in extra time.
This is the longest win streak of the season for the Purps, previously recording four straight wins from Sept. 14 through Oct. 5.
NSCAA Division I Men’s North Atlantic Poll
For the eighth-straight week, the Niagara men’s soccer squad has been slated in the top spot in the North Atlantic by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA). This is the team’s best ranking in the NSCAA North Atlantic poll, and its twelfth -straight week being ranked in the poll.
For the eighth time this season, the Purple Eagles received recognition in the NSCAA/Continental Tire National Rankings after garnering 36 total votes in the most recent poll, the most votes Niagara has received in its program history.
The Purple Eagle head to Michigan with an impressive 6-1-1 road mark on the season. NU holds a17-9 scoring advantage at its opponent’s home turf.