Seven BIG EAST men’s soccer teams were selected to compete in the 2011 NCAA College Cup, the most of any conference. St. John’s earned the league’s automatic berth into the 48-team field and there were six at-large selections.
Thirteen conferences received more than one bid, with the BIG EAST receiving seven to lead all conferences. Twenty-two of the selections were determined through automatic qualifiers, while 26 were at-large selections. The top 16 seeds receive first-round byes. The BIG EAST had four teams selected in the top 16: No. 3 seed Connecticut, No. 7 seed USF, No. 9 seed St. John’s and No. 12 seed Louisville. All seven teams will host their first NCAA tournament games.
It is the fifth time that seven BIG EAST teams have been selected for the NCAA Championship, tying the conference record (2011, 2010, 2007, 2006 and 2005).
First, second and third round games, as well as the quarterfinals, are held on the campuses of participating institutions in a single-elimination format. This year’s College Cup national semifinals and championship games will be hosted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Alabama Sports Foundation. It will be held at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala., on December 9 and 11.
Connecticut (17-3-2) is making its 14th-straight appearance in the NCAA Championship and 32nd overall. The Huskies earned the No. 3 seed and a first-round bye, hosting the winner of Stony Brook at Monmouth. UConn will host the match at 1 p.m. ET on Nov. 20. The Huskies are ranked second in the nation in goals-against average (0.35) and shutout percentage (.907). Connecticut reached the final of the BIG EAST Championship last weekend, falling in overtime to St. John’s. UConn was ranked No. 4 in the latest NSCAA poll and ranked No. 3 in the Soccer America poll.
USF (12-3-3) was awarded the No. 7 seed, the highest postseason seed for the program, and will await the winner of Florida Gulf Coast vs. UCF for a match at 6 p.m. on Nov. 20. The Bulls won the regular season Red Division title, going undefeated in conference play (7-0-2). The trip to the NCAA Tournament is the fifth-straight for USF. The Bulls were ranked No. 10 in both the NSCAA and Soccer America polls.
Louisville (12-6-2) earned the No. 12 seed in its fifth-straight NCAA appearance and will host the winner of the match between Loyola-Chicago and Bradley at 7 p.m. on Nov. 17. The Cardinals, who are one of the top 16 seeds for the second-straight year, had only one loss last season, reaching the NCAA College Cup title game and falling to Akron 1-0. In the latest rankings, UofL was ranked No. 14/11.
St. John’s (14-6-2) earned the ninth seed and will play the winner of Fairfield and Brown on Nov. 20 at 5 p.m. The Red Storm are coming off their conference-record ninth league title after defeating Connecticut 1-0 in overtime on Nov. 13 at Red Bull Arena. St. John’s is no stranger to the NCAA Tournament, having made 17 trips prior to this year. St. John’s was ranked No. 21 in both national polls last week.
Providence (10-7-1)will host Dartmouth at 2 p.m. on Nov. 17 and the winner will advance to play No. 15 seed UC Santa Barbara. Last year, PC hosted its first NCAA game, defeating St. Peter’s 6-2 in the first round. This year’s appearance in the NCAA Tournament is the sixth in program history and fifth in the last seven years.
West Virginia (10-7-1) will host Xavier in the first round at 5 p.m., with the winner playing at No. 5 seed Maryland. The Mountaineers have earned 11 berths to the NCAA Championship four in the last six seasons. Last season, WVU was matched up against Xavier and after taking a 2-0 lead five minutes into the match Franck Tayou scored three-straight goals to help the Mountaineers to a 4-2 victory.
Rutgers (9-6-3) will host Colgate in the first round on Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. and the winner will advance to play No. 4 seed Boston College. RU was second in the BIG EAST Red Division with only one loss in conference play, posting a 6-1-2 mark. This will be the Scarlet Knights’ 15th trip to the NCAA Tournament, with the last one coming in 2006.
The BIG EAST has won two NCAA College Cup titles, Connecticut in 2000 and St. John’s in 1996.