ABU DHABI, UAE (Wednesday, November 26, 2003) - The second round of the Div. I NCAA Men’s College Soccer Championship continues today and eight U.S. Under-20 players on six teams are still alive. Who’s going to win? It’s hard to say, but being thousands of miles away in the United Arab Emirates, the players – Knox Cameron (Michigan), Ryan Cochrane (Santa Clara), Steve Cronin (Santa Clara), Ned Grabavoy (Indiana), Jordan Harvey (UCLA), Craig Jared Klass (Washington), Drew Moor (Indiana) and Ford Williams (North Carolina) – know there really isn’t much they can do. Except jaw, that is. Without fail, each player believes their team has what it takes to move onto the third round, even though they can’t be there to assist their college teammates. And interestingly, they all took their shots at Knoxy and Michigan. Read on to hear all the smack being tossed around the Middle East.
Goalkeeper Steve Cronin and Defender Ryan Cochrane – Santa Clara (14-3-4) at Loyola Marymount (12-6-1)
Cochrane: "First of all, I’d like to start by saying I don’t know how Michigan got a bye in the tournament. They are probably the worst team ever, and they got a bye? Otherwise, I think we will beat Loyola Marymount and hopefully they will be in the Final Four when we get back, and then we win the tournament. That would be awesome."
Cronin: "We have a tough game coming up against Loyola Marymount, but I think we can win. Once we get past them we are playing North Carolina and they’re not that good from what I hear (editor’s note: Ford Williams of UNC is his roommate and was sitting on the bed across from him during this statement). Plus all they have is a bunch of 17-year-olds on their team. Besides that I’m hope we get a match-up with Michigan because I’ve heard they just suck."
Goalkeeper Ford Williams – North Carolina (12-3-4) vs. Coastal Carolina (19-2)
Williams: We have a tough match against Coastal Carolina, but I think we’ll pull through and get a good result. Then hopefully we’ll get Santa Clara. The word on the street is that Santa Clara is nothing without Steve Cronin and Ryan Cochrane, so it will be a walk through. And those 17-year-olds have been scoring a lot of our goals this year. Then hopefully we’ll get to play Michigan because I’ve heard they are really bad. And one last thing, I want to tell "Juice" not to guess and to react like John says."
Defender Craig Jared Klass – Washington (12-4-2) vs. Portland (10-8-1)
Klass: "I think we have a pretty good handle on Michigan this year because we beat them already. And I have no idea how they got a bye. They are just a nightmare of a team. Santa Clara hasn’t been much of a challenge in the past either. I’d also like to say that even though we lost to No. 1 seed UCLA twice this year, I think even the UCLA players would admit that we were the better team both times. Besides that, I’m confident in our team and even though we have a young backline, they are extremely strong and will help us go far. Plus, I think we’ll be considered underdogs and people won’t be ready for us."
Forward Ned Grabavoy and Defender Drew Moor – Indiana (12-3-5) vs. Kentucky (12-6-2)
Moor: I think Michigan might actually do better without Knoxy. He’s such a big part of their team, I think sometimes when you’re missing that, your players step up and they could do better. In Indiana’s case, I think it will be tough to replace Ned, but I know they will do just fine. We’ve beaten Kentucky already 1-0 this year and we’re playing at home, so hopefully we’ll be moving on to the third round."
Grabavoy: "First, I’d say the teams to look out for in the tournament are Stanford and Furman….oh, no, wait. They’re about eight games out of first place and Stanford probably had the worst season I’ve ever seen out of a big program like that. With Michigan, Drew might be right about them being better without Knox. They have a real strong defense and don’t’ let any goals in back there, so watch out for them. Other than that I think we have too much heart and pride down in Indiana to not win. Our boys will do fine and hopefully they will get a match-up with UCLA and we get back to the Final Four."
Defender Jordan Harvey -- UCLA (18-1-1) vs. Tulsa (13-5-2)
Harvey: "We haven’t played Michigan, but from what I’ve heard from the other guys, Michigan is definitely not the favorite. Did they get a seed? That’s amazing. I feel bad Santa Clara didn’t get a seed, because they definitely should have gotten it over Michigan. Honestly though, we’re the No. 1 seed and everyone knows it – even Washington – so we’re just going to show what we have on the field. Even the commentators who did the seeding said if we lost to anyone other than Maryland it would be an upset."
Forward Knox Cameron – Michigan (13-6) vs. Saint Peter’s (18-4-2)
(editor’s note: Everyone had spoken before Knox, so it was only fair to tell him everyone was ripping him and Michigan to allow him to respond)
Cameron: "It doesn’t matter what those guys may say as long as we win at the end of the day, and all those guys talking trash don’t. We’ll just see I guess. And if we see Indiana in the tournament, I’d like to beat them as we’ve started a bit of a rivalry with them. Then again, I think I’d rather play them when Ned and Drew and me are all playing so we are both at full strength. Because those guys don’t lose very often, so when they do, they always have an excuse.