Playing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002, the Tribe men’s soccer team is gearing up its first round match against Winthrop University at 7 p.m. tonight at Albert-Daly Field.
The College, which finished second in the CAA regular season, bowed out of the CAA Tournament in the semifinals to George Mason University 5-3 and backed into the NCAA field on the strength of its high RPI rating and strong nonconference schedule – most notably ties with no. 9 seed Loyola of Maryland and the University of Massachusetts (a 2007 College Cup participant).
“After the Mason game, [which] left a bad taste in our mouth, we rededicated ourselves and are concentrating on the little things,” junior forward Price Thomas said. “We have to be disciplined, stay healthy, stay sharp and not look ahead.”
The Tribe’s first round opponent, Winthrop, won the Big South Championship, defeating Coastal Carolina University 4-3 in double overtime and earning the conference’s automatic bid. Winthrop, which sat at 103rd in the NCAA’s final RPI standings, and the Tribe, which ranked 30th in the RPI, have one common opponent on the season – the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. The College defeated UNCG 2-1, while Winthrop won 3-2.
“[Winthrop] should be as good, if not better, than the teams we have played this year,” sophomore midfielder Nat Baako said.
The Tribe has faced five NCAA Tournament teams – Loyola, UMass, George Mason, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and UNCG – this season, posting a 2-2-2 record in six matches.
“Practice has been effective [this week],” sophomore midfielder Nat Baako said. “Everyone is ready for the game and should step up and have a good showing against [Winthrop].”
College students can purchase tickets for $1 at the gate.
Chris Weidman contributed to this report.