With a remarkable showing in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament last weekend, the Virginia men's soccer team vaulted from the bubble of the NCAA tournament to one of the eight seeds.
The Cavaliers, one of five South Atlantic Region teams named to the tournament field last night, are seeded sixth in the 32-team bracket and will host Ivy League champion Princeton at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Also on Sunday, seventh-seeded Maryland (14-5-0) hosts St. John's (11-5-3); William & Mary (14-6-3) travels to Penn State (17-3-1); and Maryland-Baltimore County (19-0-2) plays at top seed Duke (15-0-3) in its first tournament appearance.
Virginia Commonwealth (14-6-1) plays Monday at Wake Forest (12-2-5).
Times for the other games will be announced today. The national semifinals and championship game, called the Men's College Cup, will be played Dec. 10 and 12 at Ericsson Stadium in Charlotte.
Virginia (12-8-1) lost more games this season than it had since 1980--the last time it did not make the tournament. Coach George Gelnovatch said last week he thought his team would earn a bid without winning a game at the ACC tournament, but the Cavaliers removed all doubts by defeating No. 5 Maryland and No. 9 Wake Forest before losing to Duke in Sunday's triple-overtime final.
Virginia entered as the tournament's seventh--and last--seed with a 1-4-1 conference record.
"Two weeks ago, we were saying, 'We've got to win this game, we've got to win that game,' and now we've got a seed," Gelnovatch said. "All of our ACC games, with the exception of the Duke game . . . could have gone either way. We knew we were not the seventh-best team in that tournament, so we went out there with some confidence."
Maryland, which advanced to last year's national semifinals, saw its standing slip because of the first-round loss to Virginia.
"It definitely hurt us," Coach Sasho Cirovski said. "We have a very tough draw, but I never expected anything less. . . . I think our team has been focused on this point in the season since last December. I really feel that our early loss in the ACCs will be a blessing in disguise."
Cirovski said he was not surprised to see the Cavaliers earn a higher seed.
"Their accomplishment was noteworthy and I think [their seeding] shows the strength of the conference," Cirovski said.
North Carolina, which will play at Furman, was the fifth ACC team to make the tournament.
UMBC earned its first tournament berth by defeating Lafayette, 6-5, in a penalty-kick tiebreaker after a scoreless draw in a tournament play-in game Sunday. Andy Wells, James Hamilton, Bill Nelson, Ty Engram, P.J. Wakefield and Ryan Cuomo made kicks for the Retrievers.
"I'm excited," UMBC Coach Pete Caringi said. "Obviously we have a lot of respect for Duke and playing the top team in the country--it's going to be a challenge, but it's one I'm looking forward to."
Defending champion Indiana (16-3) is the No. 2 seed and hosts Kentucky (13-6-1) Sunday.