Exclusive to ColoradoRapids.com - (12/9/04) - Rapids Assistant Coach Steve Trittschuh took time to sit down with ColoradoRapids.com and break down this year’s NCAA Men’s Final Four in advance of this weekend’s semifinal matches and championship.
The four teams that have reached the NCAA Division 1 Semifinals this year are: Maryland Indiana University of California – Santa Barbara and Duke. The semifinal matches are this Friday Dec. 10 and the Championship is this Sunday Dec. 12.
Here's the TV schedule courtesy of SoccerTV.com (Friday's matches are tape-delayed on Saturday):
Sat. Dec. 11 10:00AM Mountain
Tape Delay - ESPN2 (US)
Men's College Soccer - NCAA Division 1 Semifinal #1 Indiana vs Maryland
Sat. Dec. 11 9:00PM Mountain
Tape Delay - ESPN2 (US)
Men's College Soccer - NCAA Division 1 Semifinal #2 UC Santa Barbara vs Duke
Sun. Dec. 12 2:00PM Mountain
LIVE - ESPN2 (US)
Men's College Soccer - NCAA Division 1 Championship Match
Tritt has seen many of the players on these teams in action from his scouting around the country this year. Below find his commentary on each team in the Final Four players he will be keeping his eyes on as well as his pick for who will take the Championship!
BREAKING DOWN THE 2004 NCAA MEN’S SOCCER FINAL FOUR
By Rapids Assistant Coach Steve Trittschuh
"First of all thanks to Rapids.Com for letting me put together this analysis of the Final Four.This year I was able to travel around the country and see lots of teams play so I have a good idea of what to look for on these Final Four teams; in fact one of the best games I saw this year was Maryland vs. Duke in the ACC tournament.
Other than the teams I have seen in action personally this year I have also made a lot of phone calls about the Final Four teams and their players. I have a great time talking to these college coaches because I have either played with some of them or against a lot of them so we are also able to talk about our shared past!
DUKE VS. UCSB
Let’s start with the number 1 team and take a look at University of California – Santa Barbara. They have been at number 1 for a lot of the 2004 season. They finished with a 20-2-1 record and won 9 straight games.
I have not had a chance to see UCSB play in person but what I am hearing about this team is they are a very physical team that put a lot of pressure on their opponents. They tackle extremely hard win the ball and get it forward very well. Two of their players will be at the adidas MLS combine in January.
Two UCSB Players I’ll be keeping my eyes on are Dan Kennedy their goalkeeper and Tony Lochhead their central defender from New Zealand. The other player that I will keep my eyes on will be forward Neil Jones also a New Zealander that is 6’4".
UCSB will be a very hard team to beat because I am sure they will have great home fan support at the Home Depot Center in California where the Final Four is being played..
Their opponent will be Duke. Duke is a team that got hot at the right time this year. I saw them play a few weeks ago at the ACC finals when they lost to Virginia 3-1. They are a very young team that plays attractive soccer.
When I watched them play none of their players really stood out but they play well as a team. That showed in their previous match when they beat Virginia 3-0. When I saw Virginia I thought for sure they would get to the Final Four. But it shows you when a team gets on a roll like Duke did they can beat anyone.
The Duke players I will be keeping my eyes on are young players. Blake Camp is a junior midfielder and Michael Videira who is the ACC freshman of the year.
MARYLAND VS. INDIANA
The other match will be very interesting Maryland vs. Indiana. These are two of the best teams I have seen play.
Maryland are a very experienced team. This is their 3rd straight Final Four appearance. Sasho Cirovski has put some great teams together and he has produced quality players that have made the jump into MLS.
Maryland plays a very attractive attacking game. They defend well and attack quickly after gaining possession. They will have 4 players that will be attending the adidas MLS combine in January the most out of any American college or university.
Maryland players I will be keeping my eyes on are: their goalkeeper Noah Palmer. He is a big kid at 6’3" and a good shot blocker. Also Ian Rodway their defensive midfielder. He is very hard working and one of the best defensive midfielders in college. The next player is Abe Thompson. One of the best forwards in college when he is healthy he is big strong and has great creativity when he is in possession of the ball. Also Dominic Mediate a wide midfielder who works very hard up and down the wing defends well and then gets into the attack. Two other young players on this squad I like are Jason Garey who scored 21 goals this season and Chris Lancos a right-sided wing back who is a very consistent player.
Their opponent is the last team I’m analyzing Indiana who are the defending champions. A lot of people were wondering how they would do this year after their coaching legend Jerry Yeagley retired after last season.
Well new coach Mike Freitag has done a great job this year. The 2004 Indiana squad is the same typical Indiana team from years past. They are all good soccer players that work hard for each other on the field. They are very good in their possession game and they are good as well in their attack.
Indiana players I will be keeping my eyes on: the best player I have seen in college plays midfielder for Indiana. It’s Danny O’Rourke who should win the Hermann Trophy. O’Rourke is a very fast hard worker that can also play in the defense. He and another player from IU will be in the adidas MLS Combine in January: their goalkeeper Jay Nolly who is a local boy from Littleton CO. The two other players I’ll be watching from IU are Drew Moor a defender and Jed Zayner also a defender. We could see these two players in the MLS soon as well.
All in all this should be an exciting Final Four with all four teams involved in the semifinals specializing in aggressively and constantly looking to attack.
My pick for the 2004 NCAA Division One Men’s Soccer Champions: I think Indiana University will repeat their championship this weekend! But you never know in the college game whoever is playing with the most confidence will emerge as the champions.