It’s a first round bye and a 13 seed for the Charlotte 49ers.
The team learned their NCAA tournament opponent today, and they will take on the winner of Thursday’s Coastal Carolina/ETSU match on Sunday at 2pm at Transamerica Field. This marks the second time the team has been seeded going into the field of 48.
LISTEN: Niners senior midfielder Aidan Kirkbride on the team’s seeding and tournament prospects
LISTEN: Niners head coach Kevin Langan’s reaction
And while there’s a feeling of excitement, the team is still cautious.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling to be seeded,” senior midfielder Aidan Kirkbride said. “But we know that really doesn’t mean anything. ETSU (and) Coastal Carolina are very good teams so we’re just going to have to work all week to prepare for Sunday.”
Charlotte, of course, was unseeded during its run to the College Cup final in 2011, and knocked out three seeded teams–11th seeded UAB, 3rd seeded UConn and second seeded Creighton–on its way there. For once, though, the team is glad to get that bye.
“Very proud of the guys,” said coach Kevin Langan. “It shows the body of work, it shows the rewards of being in such a great conference like Conference USA, where you get recognized among some of the nation’s best.”
And they’ll be drawing on the experiences of 2011’s runner-up finish, and last year’s tournament appearance, moving forward.
“The guys have incredible experience with (NCAA postseason knockout soccer)–I’m not quite sure the stats of how many knockout games they’ve been involved in, but I don’t think many teams in the country would have as many players with that much experience,” Langan said.
Charlotte defeated Coastal Carolina 2-1 in Conway, SC on September 6. Kirkbride had the game winning goal in the 73rd minute of that one.
Other Conference USA teams that got in: New Mexico, a seventh seed, who will host the winner of Thursday’s William and Mary/George Mason match Sunday at 9pm ET; and Old Dominion, who hosts Drexel at 6pm Thursday–the winner of that one will visit 6th seeded Georgetown Sunday at 1:30. A surprising snub: UAB.
Also in: Stanford–coached by Langan’s predecessor, Jeremy Gunn–whose inclusion was greeted by a couple of joking “boo’s” among the group of players and supporters gathered to watch the proceedings. They will take on Loyola Marymount Thursday at 10pm ET; the winner heads to 15th seeded CSU Northridge on Sunday.