Tulsa's 11th-seeded men's soccer team dropped a 2-1 decision to San Diego in the NCAA Championship Sweet Sixteen on Sunday night at the Hurricane Soccer and Track Stadium. TU concluded the season with a 14-6-1 overall record, while the Toreros moved to 14-8 on the year.
"I thought we started the game very well," head coach Tom McIntosh said. "We found our strikers in the first half, created a lot of good chances and scored a really good goal. We had other chances in the first half, but we just didn't put them away. In the second half, we came out a little flat. Our backline got a little bit panicked and wasn't as well organized as they had been, and we lost the midfield battle for about 20 minutes. We picked it up in the end and certainly had enough chances to score in the last 10 minutes, but couldn't get a ball to go our way."
"I think the turnaround from going 5-12 a year ago and to win 14 games and go to the Sweet 16 speaks volumes about the guys we have here," McIntosh said. "I am really proud of what they accomplished, including winning another Conference USA Championship. That is what we are here for, to win conference championships and to compete for national championships. We'll take a break and then get the process started again quickly to get ourselves ready for next year."
Cristian Mata tallied his 14th goal of the season at the 12:12 mark off a forward pass from his brother, Omar Mata, to give TU an early lead, and neither team found the back of the net for the remainder of the half.
Connor Brandt evened the score in the 63rd minute as he tapped the ball into the goal from just a foot out, and then recorded the go-ahead goal in the 68th minute as he chipped the ball over the goalkeeper's head from 25 yards out.
Tulsa had a 19-11 lead in shots, including a 5-4 advantage in shots on goal, and an 11-5 lead in corner kicks.
Cristian had a team-best eight shots in the contest, while Tony Rocha had five attempts and Akeil Barrett had two shots. Mark Pais logged all 90 minutes in goal and picked up two saves.
TU finished the season with 14 wins, a Conference USA Tournament Championship and a NCAA Sweet Sixteen finish. Tulsa outscored its opponents 48-23, and had eight shutouts overall.