The NCAA Men’s Soccer College Cup will be played Friday and Sunday at UCSB’s Harder Stadium.

This is the first College Cup on the West Coast since 2004 when UCSB lost to Indiana in a penalty-kick shootout at the Home Depot Center in Carson.

Friday’s semifinal matchups are Louisville vs. North Carolina at 5:30 p.m., and Akron vs. Michigan at 8 p.m.

The national championship is set for 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Here is a capsule look at the final four teams.

LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (19-0-3, No. 1 seed)

COACH: Ken Lolla (fifth year)

NCAA QUALIFIED: Won the Big East Conference Tournament.

TOURNAMENT ADVANCEMENT: Received a first-round bye and then defeated College of Charleston 3-1, Ohio State 2-1 and UCLA 5-4.

COLLEGE CUP HISTORY: Louisville is making its debut.

KEY PLAYERS: Forward Colin Rolfe leads a share-the-wealth scoring attack with nine goals. Midfielders Nick DeLeon and Dylan Mares each have eight goals and midfielder Charlie Campbell has six goals. Paolo DelPiccolo and Kenny Walker generate the attack in the midfield.

CALIFORNIA PLAYERS: Mark Knight, Santa Barbara City College’s all-time leading goalscorer, is taking a redshirt year after suffering an injury early in the season. Beau Diaz is a backup goalkeeper from Bullard High in Fresno.

FAST FACTS: Lolla has built Louisville into a power in five years after a successful 13-year career at Akron (160-68-25, five NCAA appearances). He’s guided the Cardinals to four straight NCAA appearances, getting as far as the second round. The Cardinals showed tremendous character in the win over UCLA, twice coming back from two-goal deficits. “You’re gonna get a chance,” Lolla said he told freshman Aaron Horton before he put him in the game with the score tied 4-4. Horton scored the game-winner against the Bruins. “That’s what we’ve been saying all season, you’re gonna get a chance. You just got to be prepared.”

AKRON ZIPS (20-1-2, 3rd seed in tournament)

COACH: Caleb Porter (fifth year)

NCAA QUALIFIED: Won the MAC regular season and tournament championship.

TOURNAMENT ADVANCEMENT: After a first-round bye, the Zips defeated West Virginia 3-2, Indiana 2-1 and Cal 3-2 in a PK shootout after a 3-3 tie.

COLLEGE CUP HISTORY: Akron is making its second straight College Cup appearance and third overall. The Zips were held goal-less in the semifinals and final last year. They beat North Carolina in a penalty-kick shootout in the semifinals but lost a shootout against Virginia in the final.

KEY PLAYERS: The Zips return almost their entire team from last year’s disappointing finish. They are led by returning All-Americans midfielder Anthony Ampaipitakwong and forward Darlington Nagbe, but they have a host of other standout players like midfielders Michael Nanchoff and Perry Kitchen and defenders Zarek Valentin, Kofi Sarkodie, Chad Barson and Chris Korb. Forward Darren Mattocks is a budding star. Goalkeeper David Meves beat Cal in shootout with two saves and has a goals-against average of 0.66.

CALIFORNIA PLAYERS: No natives, but midfielder Michael Balogun is a transfer from Cal State Fullerton.

FAST FACTS: Akron is highest scoring team in the final four with 61 goals. The Zips have been the winningest team in the country the last two years, compiling a jaw-dropping record of 43-1-4. Coach Caleb Porter replaced Ken Lolla, who took the job at Louisville. After the dramatic shootout win over Cal in the quarterfinals, Porter said of his team, “They are so hungry to win a national championship. No matter what happens, we find a way to win.”

NORTH CAROLINA (16-3-4, 4th seed)

COACH: Elmar Bolowich (21st year)

NCAA QUALIFIED: At-large entry; won ACC regular season title and fell to Maryland in ACC Tournament final.

TOURNAMENT ADVANCEMENT: Tied Georgetown 0-0 and won 5-4 in a PK shootout; tied Michigan State 1-1 and won 5-4 in shootout; tied SMU 1-1 and won in shootout 4-2.

COLLEGE CUP HISTORY: Tar Heels won the College Cup in 2001, beating Indiana 2-0; lost to Maryland 1-0 in 2008 final; lost to Akron on PKs in 2009 semifinals.

KEY PLAYERS: Sophomore forward Enzo Martinez, the team’s leading goal scorer with 10 goals, including five game-winners; senior playmaking midfielder Michael Farfan has five goals and three assists; junior midfielder Kirk Urso has five goals and five assists; senior defender Jaliil Anibaba and sophomore goalkeeper Scott Goodwin, who has won three penalty-kick shootouts in the playoffs and has recorded 11 shutouts this season

CALIFORNIA PLAYERS: Michael Farfan is from the San Diego area and transferred from Cal State Fullerton; Jalil Anibaba hails from Davis; Jordan Gafa is from San Diego Cathedral Catholic and Stephen McCarthy is a transfer from Santa Clara.

FAST FACTS: North Carolina becomes the first team in NCAA history to advance on three straight penalty-kick shootouts. The Tar Heels play a fast, entertaining game, and Goodwin has played terrific in the playoffs, allowing just two goals.

MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (17-4-3, 10th seed)

COACH: Steve Burns (11th year)

NCAA QUALIFIED: Beat Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament championship match.

TOURNAMENT ADVANCEMENT: After a first-round bye, the Wolverines beat Central Florida 2-1 in overtime, won at South Carolina 3-1 and upset No. 2-seeded Maryland 3-2 in double overtime in College Park, Md.

COLLEGE CUP HISTORY: Michigan is making its final four debut.

KEY PLAYERS: Freshman forward Soony Saad opened eyes in the college soccer world with his goal-scoring prowess. The 2009 Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Michigan scored 19 goals, ranking him second in the nation. The fast, slick Soony is joined by his sophomore brother Harmoody Saad, who has six goals and seven assists. Senior forward Justin Meram has scored 16 goals.

CALIFORNIA PLAYERS: Senior defender Jeff Quijano is from Canoga Park.

FAST FACTS: Michigan started its program in 2000 with Burns as its coach. It reached the Elite Eight in 2003, the first year the program made the tournament. The Wolverines are on a nine-game winning streak, and their 17 wins is a school record. Burns guided Michigan to back-to-back national club soccer championships in 1997 and 1998. Michigan has scored 52 goals but it’s given up 34, the most of any of the final four teams.


  1. Love the preview! Hope my Zips can rally some of you UCSB fans behind us, we are looking for our first title in any sport and hey wouldn’t you guys want to host the defending champions next year? (we are scheduled to play at UCSB next season).

    Also, we beat those dirty playing/cheating Golden Bears!

    btw if you want more info on Akron Soccer, here is a local blog that covers them well: