By JOHN BOSCHINI
Champions were crowned all around the country as conference tournaments drew to a close on Sunday.For some, a conference victory was their only chance to punch a ticket to the Big Dance while others simply secured a higher seed in tonights NCAA selection.
In the Big 10, Michigan claimed its first-ever conference title with a 4-1 victory over hosts Penn State. Freshman Soony Saad became the nations leading scorer with his 18th goal of the season just four minutes into the match. Justin Meram followed with a brace of his own before Hamoody Saad added a second-half penalty kick. Drew Cost netted a goal for the Nittany Lions before the half but it was little more than a consolation. Unranked in the most recent top 25, Michigan moves off the bubble and into the NCAA tournament while Penn State, who recieved votes but remained unranked, will have to wait for the committees decision.
In the Big East, Louisville remained undefeated with a penalty kick shootout victory over Providence. It remained scoreless until the 83rd minute when Colin Rolfes bullet from 20 yards out seemingly secured the title for Louisville. But the Friars had other plans. In the 88th minute, Matt Marcin converted a penalty kick and the game went to overtime. Neither team could manage a golden goal and Louisville goalkeeper produced two fine saves in the shootout to give Louisville its first-ever Big East tournament title.
Akron ended its season on a high note by capturing the Zips fourth-consecutive MAC title with a 4-0 rout of Western Michigan. All four goals came in the second half. Darlington Nagbe opened the scoring in the 17th minute with a shot into the upper right hand corner from just inside the 18-yard box. Scott Caldwell doubled Akrons lead by slotting it into the right-hand side of the goal after receiving a cross from Ben Speas. Darren Mattocks continued to show why hes one of the best freshman in the country with his 14th and 15th goals of the season in the 55th and 69th minute respectively.
Butler needed penalty kicks but the Bulldogs won the Horizon League title and kept their undefeated season intact with a shootout victory over Green Bay. Austin Oldham opened the scoring for the Bulldogs in the 36th minute with a shot from 15 yards out. Green Bay netted an equalizer in dramatic fashion when David Bernhardsson scored in the 89th minute. After a scoreless overtime period, Butler goalkeeper Fabian Knoppler saved three consecutive penalty kicks to give Butler the victory.
Here is the full list of conference champions. All 22 schools secured automatic berths to the NCAA tournament
America East: UMBCAtlantic Coast: MarylandAtlantic Sun: ETSUBig East: LouisvilleBig South: Coastal CarolinaBig 10: MichiganBig West: UC-Santa BarbaraColonial Athletic: William MaryConference USA: South CarolinaHorizon League: ButlerIvy League: Pinceton*Metro Atlantic: St. PetersMid-American: AkronMissouri Valley: BradleyMountain Pacific: Sacramento StateNortheast: MonmouthPac-10: California*Patriot: BucknellSouthern: UNC-GreensboroSummit: OaklandWest Coast: Santa Clara*
*Conference champion was chosen by conference record instead of conference tournament