Crosses and kicks: ACC weekly soccer notes

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Kip Coons, TSN Correspondent

RALEIGH, N.C. – N.C. State announced Tuesday the hiring of South Florida coach George Kiefer as the new head coach of the Wolfpack.

Kiefer succeeds Kelly Findley, whose contract was not renewed one day after State lost in the first round of the ACC tournament three weeks ago.

Kiefer, 45, compiled a 162-86-51 record in 15 seasons at South Florida, winning the Big East championship in 2008 and American Athletic Conference titles in 2013 and 2016.

His USF teams earned 10 NCAA tournament bids, including nine of the past 10 seasons.

A graduate of Southern Connecticut State University in 1994, Kiefer played for two Division II national championship teams.

He was as an assistant coach when SCSU won the title again in 1995 and was an assistant at Connecticut when it won the 2000 Division I crown.

Twenty of Kiefer’s USF players have been selected in the Major League Soccer drafts, including recent first-round picks in Dom Dwyer (Sporting Kansas City, 2011) and Ben Sweat (Columbus Crew, 2014).

“George has had considerable success on every level, building a perennial power at USF, while winning national championships as a player and as an assistant coach,” N.C. State athletic director Debbie Yow said in a release.

“NC State has hired one of the best respected college soccer coaches in the nation.”

Senior associate athletic director Raymond Harrison led the search committee that recommended Kiefer.

Duke dominates

Duke and North Carolina, two of the heavyweights in women’s soccer all season long, will travel this week for the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament and face the No. 1 seeds in their respective brackets.

However, the Cinderella season for N.C. State ended on the West Coast in the round of 16.

Third-seeded Duke dispatched Illinois State 3-1 and Northwestern 1-0 over the weekend at Durham to earn its fifth quarterfinal berth in the last six years and 10th in school history.

At 3 p.m. Saturday the Blue Devils (15-4-3) will meet top-seeded West Virginia (21-1-2), which needed to prevail in a penalty kick shootout with UCLA for advancement in the third round.

The Mountaineers, who beat Duke at Durham 3-1 on Sept. 9, have been ranked No. 1 in the coaches’ poll for the past five weeks.

Duke’s offense was too much for its opponents in its “Illinois regional” – the fourth team was Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, which fell to Northwestern 1-0 on Friday – outshooting its two weekend opponents by a combined 49-4.

Senior forward Toni Payne notched her eighth and ninth goals of the season against Illinois State, and junior forward Casey Martinez got her second.

Freshman midfielder Ella Stevens scored her team-leading 10th goal of the season against Northwestern.

Stevens is tied for second in season goals by a freshman, one off the school record of 11 set in 2011 by Kelly Cobb.

Stevens also owns a team-high five game-winning goals.

“She’s tricky,” Duke coach Robbie Church said of his precocious freshman.

“If you’re not tight with her, if you give her any space, any opening, she’s going to be able to find goals.”

Junior goalkeeper EJ Procter recorded her 10th shutout of the season and 21st of her career.

Her five shutouts in NCAA tournament play tie her with Allison Lipsher (2004-07) for the most in Duke history.

UNC keeps rolling

Second-seeded UNC (16-3-4) extended its unbeaten streak to nine games with weekend victories over Kansas, 2-0, and third-seeded Clemson, 1-0, to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2013.

The Tar Heels will play at 6 p.m. Friday at top-seeded South Carolina (21-1-1), which claimed 1-0 wins over Colorado and BYU over the weekend.

The Tar Heels have done it with an airtight defense, backstopped by veteran goalkeeper Lindsey Harris.

UNC has allowed only two goals in that nine-game span, and Harris has turned in four consecutive shutouts.

She has not given up a goal – excluding a penalty kick shootout in the ACC championship game against Florida State – for nearly 399 minutes.

The ACC coaches left Harris off the first, second and third All-ACC teams, which has provided some extra motivation for the redshirt senior.

“It’s definitely motivation,” Harris said.

“It was never my goal to be on a list. (But) seeing I wasn’t on there makes me want to prove something, like maybe they made a mistake. It’s never my goal to be on a list. It’s to lead the team to the championship.”

“I’m very proud of her because the three goalkeepers who made All-ACC, their seasons are over now,” UNC coach Anson Dorrance said.

“They’re not playing any more. Every game she’s played in this tournament has been a shutout.”

Freshman forward Madison Schultz and sophomore forward Maya Worth had the goals against Kansas, with Schultz getting her fourth, all game-winners in the last six games.

Dorian Bailey notched her fourth goal against Clemson to avenge a 1-1 regular-season tie with the Tigers.

Wolfpack’s run ends

N.C. State finally ran out of magic, falling 3-0 on Sunday to Santa Clara, which had knocked off No. 1 seed Stanford in the previous round.

The Wolfpack had topped Pepperdine 1-0 in the second round Friday on a goal by Taylor Porter.

The final count against Santa Clara was somewhat misleading.

The first goal came on a penalty kick, and State outshot Santa Clara 18-7 while dominating play.

Freshman midfielder Tziarra King nearly tied it up late for State, but her shot hit the post in the 72nd minute and bounced away.

The Broncos added two late goals off counterattacks as the Wolfpack pressed forward in the final minutes.

Despite the loss, it was a banner year for the Wolfpack (11-8-2), making the ACC tournament for the first time in 10 years and earning its first NCAA bid for the first time in 20 years.

The third-round appearance was the fourth in school history and the first since 1996.

The 11 victories were the most since 1996 also, which bodes well for a team that often started six freshmen.

“We were hoping to take the next step for the program, and I think we took a bigger step than we even thought we could do,” Wolfpack coach Tim Santoro said.

Late heroics for UNC men

Ninth-seeded UNC trailed Florida Gulf Coast, the nation’s highest-scoring team now with 62 goals, 2-1 with five minutes remaining and elimination looming for the favored Tar Heels in the NCAA men’s tournament.

But UNC, known more as the nation’s top defensive team, showed plenty of offense when it counted.

Nils Bruening forced overtime with 4:47 left in regulation when he converted a cross from Nico Melo for his team-leading eighth goal of the season.

Melo was the unsung hero for the Heels, logging assists on all three goals.

The final heroics were saved for redshirt senior Tucker Hume, who scored in the first half and added the golden goal at 104:55 of the second overtime for the 3-2 victory.

The 6-foot-5 Hume, a third-team All-ACC selection, used his height to full advantage as his driving header gave him his seventh goal on the year.

The towering Hume was clearly more than FGCU could cope with, as he twice drew fouls that set up dangerous free kicks for the Tar Heels just outside the penalty area.

Three of the four shots he took were on goal, including both scores.

A loss to FGCU would have written a disappointing postseason postscript to a season that held great promise.

As the No. 1 seed in the ACC tournament two weeks ago, the Tar Heels earned a first-round bye but were knocked out in the second round by Boston College 1-0.

Another tournament loss at home would have been crushing.

“It hasn’t been easy for us down the stretch here,” UNC coach Carlos Somoano said with some understatement.

ACC dominates men’s bracket

Eight of the 16 teams that advanced to third round of the NCAA men’s tournament are from the ACC, validating the conference’s NCAA-record nine selections in the original 48-team draw.

Only Boston College failed to advance from the second round, falling 3-0 to No. 14 seed Albany.

Four ACC teams will play conference opponents in the round of 16.

No. 9 seed UNC (12-3-3) will travel to eighth-seeded Syracuse (12-3-4) for a 2 p.m. Sunday match.

Fourth-seeded Louisville (13-5-2) will host No. 13 seed Notre Dame (12-6-2) at 5 p.m. Sunday.

During the regular season, UNC and Syracuse tied 0-0, while Louisville defeated Notre Dame 1-0.

The other ACC participants in the Sweet 16 also will play Sunday.

Unseeded Virginia Tech (12-4-4) visits seventh-seeded Indiana (12-1-7) at 1 p.m.; No. 2 seed Wake Forest (16-2-3) hosts Southern Illinois-Edwardsville (10-4-7) at 5 p.m.; No. 3 seed Clemson (1-3-5) entertains Albany (13-5-2) at 6 p.m.; and No. 12 seed Virginia (11-3-5) travels to No. 5 seed Stanford (12-3-4) at 8 p.m.

Four of the men’s national seeds have been dispatched so far.

Virginia Tech knocked out No. 10 Charlotte 1-0 on Sunday, but the shocker was No. 1 and previously unbeaten Maryland crashing out.

The Terps led unseeded Providence 4-1 before surrendering four goals in the final 21 minutes to lose 5-4.

Academic All-America

Five area players highlight the CoSIDA Academic All-America teams, with UNC junior midfielder David October making the men’s first team after making the third team a year ago.

N.C. State sophomore midfielder Julius Duchscherer was named to the men’s second team, and Duke senior defender Christina Gibbons is on the women’s second team.

Third-team honors went to UNC’s sophomore forward Nils Bruening and sophomore defender Alex Comsia on the men’s team, with Duke junior forward Imani Dorsey on the women’s team

Eleven players overall from the ACC received Academic All-America honors.

N.C. State staff honored

The women’s coaching staff at N.C. State has been recognized by the NSCAA as the Southeast Staff of the Year after head coach Tim Santoro, associate head coach Mike Barroqueiro, and assistant coach Tom Anagnost produced one of the best turnarounds in the nation by leading the Wolfpack on an NCAA run to the round of 16.

The staff will be honored at the College Coaches Awards Reception, presented by Surf Cup Sports, on Jan. 12, 2017 in Los Angeles in conjunction with the 2017 NSCAA convention.

The eight regional staffs that earned recognition, plus the staffs of the four semifinal teams, are eligible for consideration as the NSCAA National Staff of the Year.

U-20 World Cup update

The U.S. team won Group C in the Under-20 Women’s World Cup, being held in Papua, New Guinea, and will begin play in the quarterfinals at 1 a.m. Friday against Mexico, which finished second in Group D.

The winner would play either North Korea or Spain in Tuesday’s semifinals.

The U.S. advanced to the knockout round with a 0-0 tie with France, a 3-1 win over New Zealand, and a 1-1 tie with Ghana in group play.

Three ACC players from the Triangle are members of the U.S. team.

Freshman defender Taylor Otto of North Carolina has played every minute of the three matches as a central defender.

Junior forward Jessie Scarpa has started two of three matches and came off the bench in the other, when she logged an assist against New Zealand.

Duke freshman goalkeeper Brooke Heinsohn did not appear in any of the three matches.

All three players would qualify for a redshirt year when they return to their college teams.