Men’s soccer advances to national tourney quarters for first time in over 30 years


Eric Scharf

Members of the UVM men’s soccer team celebrate a goal during a 2021 game. The Catamounts will look to advance to the NCAA national tournament semifinals in their quarterfinal match against Syracuse University Dec. 3.

Editor’s note: this story was updated on Dec. 3 at 6:26 p.m. to correct a name error.

1989 called, and they want their soccer team back.

The UVM men’s soccer team is on its way to the NCAA Divison I Men’s Soccer Championship quarterfinals for the first time in 33 years after a commanding 3-0 win over the University of California, Los Angeles Nov. 26 at Virtue Field.

The Catamounts hosted the Bruins under the lights for a showdown of the highest importance and walked away with a convincing shutout victory.

With a current 16-3-2 record, the team’s best since the program’s historic 1989 run, the Cats have won their last three tournament games and are en route to a quarterfinal matchup against Syracuse University.

After tying Syracuse 1-1 in the regular season Sept. 2, the Catamounts went on a blistering 11-game winning streak before falling to University of Maryland, Baltimore County in a 2-1 loss Oct. 22, according to the team’s website.

The Cats held the No. 2 conference seed going into the America East tournament but fell short of the championships with a 1-0 semifinal loss to University at Albany Nov. 10. However, UVM was still selected for a spot in the NCAA tournament by the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Committee.

UVM’s run in the national tournament began with a thrilling 3-2 overtime win against Quinnipiac University Nov. 17, and the squad followed it with a shocking come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Southern Methodist University just three days later.

Saturday night’s match against UCLA provided the packed stands of Virtue Field with a display of confidence from the home side. 

After a scoreless first half, the Catamounts opened the floodgates in the fifty-sixth minute.

Sophomore forward Yaniv Bazini smashed in a top-drawer strike from outside the 18-yard box, leaving UCLA goalkeeper Nate Crockford standing. Graduate midfielder Yves Borie added a second goal with a no-look volley into the bottom left corner in the seventieth minute.

Fifth-year forward Alex Nagy, a 2022 MLS SuperDraft pick for D.C. United, added an insurance goal for the Cats in the eighty-sixth minute with a tap-in after a save by Crockford landed the ball in Nagy’s path.

UVM’s trip to the quarterfinals is one for the books—Catamount fans haven’t been witness to such a game since the University’s storied 1989 season, where the team went on a 20-game win streak and made it to the national tournament quarterfinals, according to a Nov. 19, 2016 Burlington Free Press article

UVM ultimately fell 2-1 in overtime in the ‘89 quarterfinal match against Rutgers University.

The Catamounts’ clash against Syracuse will be a competitive rematch, with UVM facing the Orange on the road Dec. 3 at 2 p.m.