Three area soccer teams, American, George Mason and Virginia, were named to the 23-team Division I postseason tournament, the NCAA announced yesterday. American (16-2-2) is seeded first in the South Atlantic region and will receive a bye in the first round. George Mason will play at Virginia Sunday.
"It's an honor," American Coach Pete Mehlert said of the top position. "Getting picked for the NCAA tournament is soccer's equivalent of going to a bowl game."
The regional final will be played on or before Nov. 24, but there is a good chance American will not play host to the game because of the condition of its field.
"We can dream and hope, but I don't think we will (get to play on our home field)," Mehlert said. "If George Mason wins we have a chance to host." American beat George Mason, 1-0, at American Oct. 23.
In a preview of their first-round game, George Mason (17-3) beat Virginia, 3-2, Saturday at George Mason. The Cavaliers are 15-3-1.
The regional champion will play the winner of the South region. The South and the Far West were the only regions to receive two at-large bids in addition to the two automatic bids given to each of the eight regions.
Clemson (17-2-2), Duke (16-4), North Carolina State (17-3-2) and South Carolina (18-2-1) received playoff bids. Last year Clemson beat Virginia, 1-0, in the NCAA quarterfinals and eventually won the national championship. The Cavaliers beat Clemson, 2-0, two weeks ago in Charlottesville. Clemson beat American, 1-0, Oct. 26.
Despite the outcome against the common opponent, Mehlert felt the Eagles deserved the No. 1 seed because of their record within the region. "Our record is 7-1 against top 10 teams in this region," he said. "Virginia is 1-2 and George Mason is 5-1."
Virginia's second loss within the region was to Old Dominion, which finished 16-1-3, and was considered a fourth candidate for an NCAA selection from the South Atlantic region.
JUCO Region 20: Montgomery-Rockville, Essex, Prince George's and Allegheny (Pa.) will be playing in the soccer semifinals, which begin at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Montgomery-Rockville. The final will be Saturday at 1 p.m.