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College Soccer Notebook: Virginia Tech and Virginia men get NCAA byes

College Soccer Notebook: Virginia Tech and Virginia men get NCAA byes


The Virginia Tech and Virginia men’s soccer teams have both reaped first-round byes and second-round home games in the NCAA tournament.

The pairings for the 48-team tournament were announced Monday.

UVa (17-1-1), which earned an automatic bid as the ACC champ, was chosen as the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA field for the second time in its history.

“It’s a nice kind of recognition,” UVa coach George Gelnovatch said Monday in a phone interview. “But top four [seeding] is kind of what you’re going for. Overall No. 1, 2, 3, 4 to me are kind of interchangeable.”

Virginia Tech (9-5-3), which received an at-large bid, was awarded the No. 10 overall seed.

Only the top 16 teams in the field were seeded. Those 16 teams were rewarded with first-round byes and second-round home games.

So Tech coach Mike Brizendine, whose team was No. 7 in the RPI, was relieved to be seeded.

“I felt pretty good about it, but you never know,” Brizendine said. “Getting the seed and being able to watch our opponent and getting a few more days’ rest are all very important.

“I’m grateful because the guys put in a lot of work and I think they deserved the seed.”

The Hokies, in the NCAAs for a school-record fourth-straight year, will host America East champ New Hampshire or Northeast Conference champ Fairleigh Dickinson at 4 p.m. Sunday.

New Hampshire (14-1-3) will host Fairleigh Dickinson (7-8-4) on Thursday.

The injury-plagued Hokies lost to Wake Forest in penalty kicks in the ACC quarterfinals on Nov. 10.

Jon Ingason, Nikal Clarke-Smith, Chris Little and Nico Quashie missed that game, while Camron Lennon got hurt in that game. Brendan Moyers played in the game but is also ailing.

“We’re still pretty beat up,” Brizendine said. “We’re not going to have our full complement of players, but I’m hoping that we can get a couple more back.”

The Tech lineup includes Kristo Strickler (nine goals) and Northside graduate Daniel Pereira (five goals).

“We have a couple different ways to hurt you, whether it’s set pieces or individual talent,” Brizendine said. “We haven’t been as healthy up there as I had hoped, and I think that hurt us during the regular season. But we make it work.”

The Cavaliers, in the NCAAs for the 39th straight time, will host Colonial Athletic Association champ James Madison (11-6-3) or Big South champ Campbell (16-2-2) at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Campbell will visit JMU on Thursday.

Gelnovatch, whose team last won the NCAA title in 2014, said his squad has the necessary ingredients for a championship.

“We’ve got a talented team … but it’s not enough,” Gelnovatch said. “You need that experience, you need that hunger, you need that drive. And that’s collectively what makes this team a little bit different.”

Gelnovatch likes the team’s leaders.

“We have sneakily become a veteran team,” he said. “There’s been years where we’ve had some pretty talented teams but … didn’t have enough experience. I think that was clearly [the case] last year.”

The UVa lineup includes Patrick Henry graduate Irakoze Donasiyano, who has four goals and four assists.

“He’s playing a much different role than he played for us last year,” Gelnovatch said. “Now he’s in a playmaking role in the central midfield. … He’s massively important for us.”

UVa and Tech are among 10 ACC teams in the NCAA field.

W&L to face NCAA champs

The Washington and Lee men’s soccer team will have to face defending NCAA Division III champ Tufts (16-2-2) in the Sweet 16.

The Generals (17-2-3) got to play at home in the first two rounds but will now have to head up to Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. Swarthmore will host a Sweet 16 doubleheader and a quarterfinal game.

Swarthmore (11-3-5), which beat Roanoke on penalty kicks in the first round and defeated Christopher Newport on penalty kicks in the second round, will host Connecticut College (12-3-3) at 1 p.m. Saturday. Tufts, which is in suburban Boston, will meet W&L at 3:30 p.m.

The winners will square off at 3 p.m. Sunday for a berth in the final four.

Tufts has won three of the past five Division III titles.

W&L is the only one of the four schools in this sectional that entered the tournament as the top seed in its region. But as W&L coach Michael Singleton expected, the NCAA picked Swarthmore to host this sectional because of its location.

“This is the cheapest way the NCAA could do it, because everybody can take a bus,” Singleton said with a laugh.

Singleton is not happy that W&L is playing in the second game of Saturday’s twin bill. If W&L wins, it will have to play again in less than 24 hours.

“We worked so hard in the regular season to earn our No. 1 seed in the region. Why is that not considered when you get to the third round?” Singleton said. “I do think it should be us in the first game with Tufts.”

Last weekend, W&L beat North Carolina Wesleyan 1-0 in the first round and rallied past Gettysburg 3-2 in the second round.

“The Sunday game, my guys showed great resiliency,” Singleton said.

Cougars next for UVa women

The UVa women’s soccer team will host Washington State (13-6-1) at 7 p.m. Friday in the second round of the NCAAs.

Virginia, which was the No. 1 seed in its 16-team bracket, beat Radford in the first round of the 64-team tournament last weekend.

UVa (17-1-3) will host a second-round doubleheader and a Sweet 16 game.

Central Connecticut State (13-4-4), which upset fourth-seeded Rutgers, will face West Virginia (11-7-2) at 4 p.m. Friday in Charlottesville.

The winners will meet at 5 p.m. Sunday for a berth in the quarterfinals.

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Mark Berman covers Virginia Tech men’s basketball and many other teams at the university. He also helps cover other colleges, including Radford, VMI, Roanoke, Washington and Lee and Ferrum.

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