Just when it seemed somebody was going to make a game of it against the UC San Diego men’s soccer team, the Tritons unleashed their Madison High School connection.
Thien Nguyen and Scott Rommel, who played together at Madison, each had a goal and Nguyen added an assist as UCSD shook off Emory University for a 4-1 victory in an NCAA Division III quarterfinal match Sunday at UCSD.
The Tritons (21-0-2), ranked fourth in the nation, will play Messiah (Pa.) in the semifinals at a site and date to be determined today. Messiah defeated Elizabethtown, 3-0, to reach the semifinals.
Emory looked as if it would give UCSD a hard time after it tied the score, 1-1, early in the first period.
Mike Bradley scored on a pass from Nguyen at 12:39, but Emory scored 50 seconds later. Scott Cahoon put a free kick from 20 yards out just under the left side of the crossbar.
The Tritons put the match away with goals by Nguyen and Rommel.
“I remember when Thien came into my class in the fifth grade as a refugee from Vietnam,” Rommel said. “I got him on a local soccer team and we’ve pretty much been playing together ever since.”
Nguyen sliced a shot from the right side that hit the inside left post to give UCSD a 2-1 lead at 32:47. Two minutes later, Rommel scored unassisted to put UCSD ahead, 3-1, at halftime.
“They were throwing it out left every time,” Rommel said. “I anticipated it. Usually we’re supposed to stay a couple feet off, but for some reason I went for (the ball). It popped up and I hooked it in.”
Rommel, who had only 7 goals during the season, has scored 6 in 3 playoff games and UCSD has outscored its opponents, 14-3.
“We knew we were facing a good offensive team,” Emory Coach Mike Rubesch said. “Defense was our strength coming in. We thought we could neutralize their offense and counter.”
The UCSD women’s team lost, 1-0, in sudden death to host William-Smith College of New York in the Division III final Sunday.
The Tritons (19-1-2) had 3 consecutive playoff victories on the road. UCSD and William-Smith were scoreless during regulation and 30 minutes of overtime.