By Philip Hersh, Tribune reporter
11:32 AM CST, November 18, 2013
A loss in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament and the likely loss of its No. 1 ranking did not keep the Notre Dame men’s soccer team from a high seed and first-round bye in the 48-team NCAA tourney.
And a late-season slump, including a loss in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament, did not keep Northwestern’s men from a ninth NCAA tourney spot in the last 11 seasons. The Wildcats (10-7-3) open at home Thursday at 7 p.m. against Missouri Valley Conference champion Bradley (13-5-2).
Third -seeded Notre Dame (12-1-6), No. 1 in the coaches’ poll the past two weeks, is home Sunday at 7 p.m. against the winner of Thursday’s cheesehead championship between Wisconsin and Wisconsin-Milwaukee at Madison.
In the ACC semifinals, the Irish led Virginia 3-1 before giving up two goals in the final six minutes of regulation play and eventually losing on penalty kicks.
Notre Dame senior Harrison Shipp of Lake Forest was named ACC offensive player of the year and led the team in scoring (9 goals, 8 assists.) This will be the 12th NCAA tourney in the last 13 seasons for the Irish, a two-time quarterfinalist.
After high-scoring freshman Brandon Medina of St. Ignatius tore the ACL in his right knee Oct.9 and was lost for the season, the Wildcats went just 2-4-3 in their final nine games. Starting defender Layth Masri missed the entire season with an injury.
Northwestern lost to Bradley 3-2 in overtime Oct. 2.
The NU-Bradley winner plays at 4th-seeded Cal-Berkeley in Sunday's second round.
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