NCAA FIRST ROUND
#18 AIR FORCE at VIRGINIA TECH
Thursday, Nov. 16, 7 p.m. ET
Thompson Field, Blacksburg, VA
TOURNAMENT WEEK: After winning the school’s first WAC men’s soccer regular season title, the Air Force Falcons learned their postseason fate on Monday morning and will head east to take on Virginia Tech in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament, Thursday evening. The Falcons and Hokies are slated for a 7 p.m. ET start at Thompson Field, in Blacksburg, VA. The first-round matchup marks the first meeting between the programs. The winner of Thursday’s match between Air Force and Tech will head to East Lansing, Mich. on Sunday to take on seventh-seed Michigan State.
Air Force, who fell to San José State in the semifinal round of the WAC Tournament, take on the Hokies with a record of 14-2-3. Austin Dewing leads the Falcons offensively with seven goals and seven assists in 1,085 minutes played. Tucker Bone has five goals and seven assists for Air Force. Defensively, John Wendt was named First Team All-WAC and will take a 0.68 goals against average into the national tournament.
Virginia Tech holds a 9-9-0 record on the year, including 3-5-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal division. The Hokies were the nine seed in the ACC tournament and earned a 1-0 overtime win over North Carolina State in the first round before falling to top-seed Wake Forest, 3-0, in the quarterfinal round. Virginia Tech is led offensively with 11 goals and two assists by forward Marcelo Acuna, who started his career in the WAC at Houston Baptist. Ben Lundgaard leads the Hokies in goal, allowing 31 goals in 1,612 minutes for a 1.73 goals against average.
LAST TIME AT THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: Michael Harris scored the game’s only goal in the 15th minute to lead the University of Washington men’s soccer team to a 1-0 victory over Air Force in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament at Husky Soccer Stadium in Seattle, Wash. The Falcons’ season came to an end with a 10-9-4 record. Air Force, making its first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1997, could not solve the Washington defense or goalie Spencer Richie, who saw just one shot on goal and made the save.
A YEAR FOR THE RECORD BOOKS: In his 11th season at the helm of the men’s soccer team, head coach Doug Hill continues to guide the team to new heights, producing his most successful regular-season to date, including a program-best 11-1 record at home. The 2017 WAC Coach of the Year led Air Force to its first ever WAC men’s soccer title in this year’s campaign. This year’s tournament bid marks the second-straight year of the Falcons competing in WAC post-season action. The Falcons’ 10 shutouts are a program-best since coach Hill took the helm in the 2007 season. Last year, Hill’s Falcons were only one win shy (14) of tying the program record for single-season wins (15).
WAC ANNUAL AWARD WINNERS: Coach Hill was dubbed the WAC’s coach of the year for the first time since joining the league. Eight Falcons earned spots on the All-WAC teams; Tucker Bone, Oscar Chacon and John Wendt were added to the first-team, while Klint Parker, Trey Pujats and James Sims were added to the second team. Danny Han and Luis Martinez earned honorable mentions. The honor marks Bone’s second time on the first-team. Wendt makes his first appearance on the first-team after being added to last year’s second-team.
ON THE MAP: Air Force continues its reign in the national polls as the Falcons are ranked ninth in the Soccer America Top 25, 15th in the College Soccer News Top 30, and 18th in both the Top Drawer Soccer Top 25 and United Soccer Coaches Top 25. Seattle is also ranked in a couple polls, holding the 22nd spot in the CSN Top 30 and 23rd position in the USC Top 25. Air Force was 27th in the RPI rankings while Tech checked in at 22nd, released by the NCAA on selection day. Seattle U is next on the list at 50 while both San José State and UNLV finished in the top 100 at 70 and 78 respectively. The United Soccer Coaches West Region Ranking stayed virtually the same this week. Air Force continues to hold down the top spot, followed by Seattle U in second and UNLV up one spot to fourth.
THE WAC-- STATISTICALLY SPEAKING: Air Force heads into the NCAA tournament leading the WAC in least goals allowed (11), goals against average (0.56) and is tied with Seattle U for the lead in shutouts (10). SU also leads the league in shots (408) and corners (149) and is tied with UNLV for the lead in goals scored (36). UNLV is tops in points (103) and assists (36) while Houston Baptist is tops in saves (88).
Individually, Seattle U’s Alex Roldan is the leader in shots with 94. UNLV’s Danny Musovski led the way in points (36) and goals (15) while Air Force duo Tucker Bone and Austin Dewing and Seattle U’s Roldan tied for the lead in assists (7). Fellow Falcon Klint Parker had a WAC-best four game-winning goals in the regular season while teammate John Wendt was the top keeper with a 0.68 goals against average. Houston Baptist’s Harrison Veith held the top save percentage (.803) while CSU Bakersfield’s Detre Bell was the saves leader with 82. Seattle U’s Josh Adachi was the leader in shutouts, finishing with 10.
In WAC-only play, Air Force again led the league in least goals allowed (7) and goals against average (0.66) and tied for the lead in shutouts (4) with Seattle U and San José State. Seattle U was also the leader in shots (214) and corners (78). UNLV was tops in points (69), goals (23) and assists (23). Houston Baptist tied the WAC record for saves in league play with 65.
Individually, SU’s Roldan was the leader in shots (51), a new WAC recoord, and UNLV’s Musovski was the leader in points (22) and goals (9). AF’s Bone was the assist leader (6). UNLV’s Timo Mehlich and UMKC’s Eric McWoods tied for the lead in game-winning goals iwth three each while UTRGV’s Aalto posted the top goals against average (0.78) and save percentage (.815). CSU Bakersfield’s Detre Bell and Grand Canyon’s Jeremy Pollard finished with 49 saves each in conference play. SU’s Adachi and San José State’s David Heredia tied for the lead in shutouts with four each.