The 2017 NCAA Men's College Cup has arrived, and a matchup of high-profile Chicago Fire development alumni will kickoff the competition's penultimate round.
With four teams remaining in the tournament, Indiana and North Carolina and their nine combined alums of the Chicago Fire Academy, Indiana Fire Academy and PDL squad will do battle on Friday, Dec. 8 (ESPNU, 7:45 p.m. CT) for a spot in the College Cup final against the winner of ninth-seeded Stanford and fifth-seeded Akron. This year's semifinals and final will be held at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pa.
Read more below on how Indiana and North Carolina reached this point and what it will take to get them into the 2017 College Cup trophy final.
No. 2 seed Indiana
It took penalty kicks to break a 1-1 deadlock for the Hoosiers in their quarterfinal matchup against Michigan State on Friday night. The Spartans got a goal from Fire development alum Ryan Sierakowski just two minutes into the match, but it was leveled by the Hoosier's in the 60th minute. Fire products Rece Buckmaster and Andrew Gutman each went the full 110 minutes. Big 10 Defender of the Year Grant Lillard got a 100-minute shift in as well, while redshirt freshman Spencer Glass made a 58-minute cameo as the Hoosiers advanced 3-2 on PKs.
Joining the above named players in the College Cup are Fire development products Thomas Warr -- who picked up two goals and three assists in 17 appearances as a freshman forward -- junior midfielder Jeremiah Gutjahr, and freshman goalkeeper Jacob Gruber.
No. 3 seed North Carolina
Lining up across from the Hoosiers will be the third-seeded Tar Heels, who took down Fordham 2-1 in Saturday's quarterfinals to book their spot in the College Cup. ACC First-Team and Midfielder of the Year selection Cam Lindley picked up his 13th assist of the season -- a tally that represents the Tar Heels' highest since 2006 -- in a 90-minute outing from midfield, while 2017 Third-Team All-ACC defender Mauricio Pineda put a pair of shots on frame in a 90-minute performance of his own.
For brackets, broadcast schedules and more information on the 2017 NCAA College Cup, visit NCAA.com