Check Out Tritt's Picks for the 2006 NCAA Men's College Cup

WESTMINSTER (Exclusive to Rapids Assistant Coach Steve Trittschuh took time to sit down with and break down this year’s NCAA Men's Soccer College Cup. The championship match this year takes place on December 3rd.

Tritt and the Rapids coaching staff traditionally scout more players on these teams and more college games in general than any other MLS team.

Below find his exclusive inside commentary on each of the remaining teams players he will be keeping his eyes on as well as his picks for who will win each matchup as well as take the 2006 Championship! See how his picks match up to your brackets!

By Rapids Assistant Coach Steve Trittschuh

"It is that time of year to look at who is left in The Road to the Final Four and the 2006 Men's Soccer College Cup.

The first round began two weeks ago with some schools that received a bid for the first time or have not been in the tournament for many years. Some of the smaller universities that received bids were Hofstra Fairfield Gardner-Webb and Lehigh. A few of those schools created upsets but for the final 8 none of those schools are left.

Let’s take a look at the Elite Eight and the match-ups for this weekend.

The first Quarterfinal match is Northwestern vs. U.C. Santa Barbara. This is the first time Northwestern has ever advanced to the Elite Eight. This team is the surprise of the tournament having an up and down season.

Out of this match I would think U.C. Santa Barbara would win. They knocked off the number three seed SMU in the second round and have momentum going into this match. One of their key players is defender Andy Iro. I have not seen these two teams play but I did scout them last season. This should be an exciting match because each team should play like they have nothing to lose at this point.

The next mach is Santa Clara vs. Wake Forest. I have scouted both of these teams this season. Both are solid teams and both are coached by experienced men in Cam Rast at Santa Clara and Jay Vidovich at Wake Forest. Santa Clara has had the tougher road in the tournament this far. They knocked off a tough Washinton team and then beat Indiana in PK’ s. Wake Forest is the number two ranked team and had an easier time getting to the quarterfinals.

Santa Clara has two players to keep an eye on. They are midfielder Peter Lowery and a freshman defender Amaechi Igwe. Wake Forest is a solid team. They play well together with a strong defense and speedy players in the offense. Two players to keep an eye on are defenders Pat Phelan and Julian Valentin. I look for Wake Forest to win this match and get to the final 4 for the first time.

The third match to look at is Notre Dame vs. Virginia. This will be a very interesting match. Both teams are well coached and both teams have had solid seasons. I have seen Virginia play this season but not Notre Dame. Virginia has one Hermann finalist in Yannick Reyering. He is a big strong target man that has decent speed ond good technique on the ball. I see him in the MLS in the near future.

Notre Dame has two players that are on the Hermann Trophy list. They are Greg Dalby and Joseph Lapira. Lapira has scored 22 goals this season and looks to be the front runner to win the Hermann trophy. This game is the hardest to predict. I will go with Virginia since the have the home field advantage.

The last match to look at is UCLA vs. Duke. I have seen both teams play this season and I feel Duke is the best team in the country at the moment. UCLA is led by assist man Sal Zizzo who will play in the MLS in the future. Also keep an eye on freshman Kyle Nakazawa.

Like I said Duke is a very solid team from back to front. Their top scorer Mike Grella has 13 goals this season. Another player to keep an eye on is the left back Kyle Helton. He has good speed and defends very well. Michael Videria is a Hermann finalist and is a very solid player in the midfield. I pick Duke to win this matchup.

As for the Final Four according to my selections so far that would make it UCSB vs. Wake Forest and Duke vs. Virginia. Out of those games I pick Duke and Wake Forest to make it to the championship match in St. Louis on December 3.

I think Duke will win the final but crazier things have happened in the college game!

Like I said I have had the chance to scout all these teams this year except for the few I mentioned previously and those teams I was able to see play in person last even though my picks may not be right I think I'll get pretty close!

Thanks for this opportunity to analyze the College Cup and good luck with your brackets!"


Elite Eight:
Northwestern vs. UCSB. Winner: UCSB
Santa Clara vs. Wake Forest. Winner: Wake Forest
Notre Dame vs. Virginia. Winner: Virginia
UCLA vs. Duke. Winner: Duke

Final Four:
Duke vs. Virginia. Winner: Duke
UCSB vs. Wake Forest. Winner: Wake Forest

2006 NCAA College Cup Championship:
Duke vs. Wake Forest. Winner: Duke