By IVES GALARCEP
After years of being on the wrong side of penalty kick shootout eliminations in the NCAA Tournament, UConn looks like a team starting to figure out how to handle the dreaded shootout.
The Huskies rallied back from deficits on two occasions, forcing overtime and an eventual penalty shootout against No. 1 seed UCLA, before a perfect set of penalties and one Andre Blake PK save helped give UConn a shootout victory against the Bruins on Sunday.
Freshman Cyle Larin scored a pair of goals for the Huskies, off-setting a double scored by fellow Generation adidas target Leo Stolz, including a 69th-minute equalizer.
The victory pushed UConn’s unbeaten streak to 17 matches, and booked the Huskies a place in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals, where they will face Virginia, which overcame a first-minute red card to beat Marquette, 3-1.
The lone remaining 2012 NCAA finalist saw its season ended on Sunday, with Georgetown falling to Michigan State, 1-0. The Spartans used their stingy defense, led by Kevin Cope, to stifle the Hoyas normally-potent attack.
Michigan State’s victory sets up a showdown against Notre Dame in the Elite Eight. The Fighting Irish overwhelmed Wake Forest, 4-2, in their Round of 16 clash, with Harrison Shipp scoring another goal for the No. 3 seed.
No. 2 seed Washington relied on another Michael Harris flip-throw to produce a late goal and give the Huskies a 1-0 victory against Stanford. Washington will next face No. 7 New Mexico, which beat Penn State, 2-0.
No. 5 seed Maryland needed some heroics from freshman goalkeeper Zack Steffen, as well as another Patrick Mullins goal, to beat UC-Irvine, 1-0. Steffen recorded five saves to notch his fourth shutout in five matches.
The Terps will now face a familiar foe in No. 4 seed California, which edged Coastal Carolina, 1-0, with Alec Sundly providing the winner.
All eight quarterfinalists will square off in the Elite Eight match-ups on Saturday, at the home sites of the higher-seeded teams.
What did you think of the weekend’s action? Which team do you see being the favorite now? Think UConn can go all the way? See Maryland or Notre Dame as favorites now?
Share your thoughts below.