Automatic bids to the 28-team NCAA men's soccer tournament will be at stake when the Atlantic Coast Conference and Colonial Athletic Association tournaments begin today.
The ACC, traditionally one of the most competitive soccer conferences in the country, will begin its tournament with three matches in Durham, N.C. Fifth-seeded Maryland (10-7-1) will play fourth-seeded North Carolina State (13-4) at 3 p.m., followed by No. 3 Virginia (9-4-5) and No. 6 North Carolina (12-5) at 6, and No. 2 Duke (12-5-1) and No. 7 Wake Forest (9-7-2) at 8.
Top-seeded Clemson (16-2-1), ranked second in the national coaches' poll, received a bye and will play the Maryland-N.C. State winner in a semifinal Friday night. The final will be Sunday at 2.
Virginia, the NCAA co-champion last year, has its fewest victories in a season since 1980 (8-9-1). The Cavaliers haven't lost five games since 1983 (16-5), and five ties are the most ever.
George Mason (11-4-4) is the favorite in the first CAA tournament in Richmond. The top-seeded Patriots will play a first-round game against eighth-seeded East Carolina (6-15-1) at 1. No. 4 William and Mary (11-5-3) will meet No. 5 Navy (8-9-2) at 3, No. 3 Richmond (13-5-1) will play No. 6 North Carolina-Wilmington (6-7-1) at 7 and No. 2 James Madison (13-5) will face No. 7 American (11-8-1) at 9.
The semifinals will be Friday night and the final will be Sunday at 2.
The 15th-ranked Patriots are 42-5-7 against CAA teams since joining the league in 1983. They are in quest of their sixth NCAA tournament berth in seven years.
George Washington (8-6-5) will need to win the Atlantic 10 tournament to receive a second straight NCAA bid. The fourth-seeded Colonials will play top-seeded Rutgers (14-2-2) Saturday at 1 in Piscataway, N.J. No. 2 Penn State (9-7-2) will play No. 3 Temple (12-5) in the other semifinal. The final will be Sunday at 1.
The junior college Region XX playoffs will be this weekend at Anne Arundel Community College. Montgomery-Rockville, ranked second in the coaches' poll, and perennial power Essex are expected to meet in Sunday's final. However, the host team upset the Knights, 3-2, in overtime in the regular-season finale last weekend.
The winner will advance to the national tournament at Mercer County in Trenton, N.J.