Flint City Bucks stars Jelldrik Dallmann, Emeka Eneli (pictured above), and Isaac Walker will open NCAA Tournament play Sunday after each of their schools earned first-round byes.
Sebastian Chalbaud and Ideal Shefqeti are also fostering College Cup hopes after helping their squads emerge victorious Thursday as a 48-team field was whittled to 32.
On the less fortunate side, Northeast Conference Defensive Player of the Year Hugo Bacharach and Fairleigh Dickinson University were eliminated by perennial powerhouse, Maryland.
All second-round matches Sunday will be streamed live on ESPN+.
Ideal Shefqeti (Pittsburgh) vs. #16 Akron: 1p ET
Shefqeti has made 10 appearances for Pittsburgh this season after transferring from Fairleigh Dickinson. The box-to-box midfielder from Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy, has been a steady central presence for the Bucks for two consecutive USL League Two seasons.
Pittsburgh (9-4-5, 3-2-3 ACC) defeated Cleveland State by a 2-1 score Thursday night, improving to 4-0 in NCAA Tournament matches at their home field. Next, the Panthers are on the road for a rematch with No. 16 Akron, who they drew 3-3 earlier this year.
Emeka Eneli (#14 Cornell) vs. Maryland: 2p ET
As an attacking midfielder, Eneli scored five times for the Bucks over the summer and was a consistent starter from beginning to end. He carried that form into his fifth season with Cornell: With four goals and six assists, Eneli earned his second consecutive first-team All-Ivy League selection. This year, he was one of just three unanimous picks.
No. 14 Cornell (13-3-1) will host Maryland (11-3-5) on Sunday afternoon, with the Big Reds in search of their school’s first NCAA Tournament victory since 1977.
Jelldrik Dallmann (#9 Lipscomb) vs. Western Michigan: 3p ET
After a scorching 12-goal debut for the Bucks, the German forward Dallmann stayed hot in his first season at Lipscomb — tallying 11 times in 14 starts. He was named ASUN Player of the Year and was one of two unanimous picks to the all-conference first team.
After claiming the ASUN title, Lipscomb will host their first NCAA Tournament match across all sports. They will welcome former Bucks forward Charlie Sharp and the Western Michigan Broncos, who advanced with a 2-1 double-overtime win over Louisville.
Isaac Walker (#1 Kentucky) vs. South Florida: 6p ET
Flint City's No. 1 keeper for the two past two seasons is now at No. 1 University of Kentucky. The former Western Michigan Bronco started all 14 regular-season matches for the Bucks this summer — allowing just 13 goals while recording five clean sheets. He has started five matches for the Wildcats, winning four games and recording two shutouts.
Kentucky won the Sun Belt Conference regular season title, as well as the conference tournament. The University of South Florida has a tall task in Lexington.
Sebastian Chalbaud (High Point) vs. #5 Stanford: 8p ET
A late arrival for his second season in Flint, the crafty attacker Chalbaud critically reclaimed his place with the Bucks as this summer's postseason push intensified. Now, the Venezuelan is in the midst of another high-scoring season at High Point University. He has three goals and four assists in 19 starts, earning a spot on the Big South All-Tournament Team.
High Point went unbeaten in conference play for the third consecutive season and won their fifth Big South tournament in six years. They’ll visit storied Stanford out west.