INDIANAPOLIS - The UC San Diego men’s soccer team has earned its first NCAA Division II Championship berth in a decade. The official announcement was made on Monday evening.
The Tritons, at 14-3-3 overall and currently ranked No. 16 in the nation, will make their first NCAA tournament appearance under sixth-year head coach Jon Pascale, and first since 2003. This marks the program's second-ever berth at the Division II level.
UCSD’s tournament run will begin at home inside Triton Soccer Stadium in La Jolla. As the No. 2 seed in the six-team, double-site West portion of the Super Region 4, UCSD gains a bye into the tourney’s second round, and will welcome third-seeded Chico State (13-4-2) and sixth-seeded Seattle Pacific (12-3-3) for a first-round contest this Thursday, Nov. 14, beginning at noon.
The winner gets the Tritons in the second round on Saturday night, Nov. 16. The primetime kickoff underneath the lights at Triton Soccer Stadium for that one will be 7 p.m.
UCSD is coming off of its first defeat in eight matches, a 1-0 decision against Cal State L.A. in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Championship final Sunday in Turlock.
Ticket prices for this week’s activity are $8 for general admission, and $5 for seniors and students with valid identification. Children under seven years of age are admitted free of charge. Both matches feature live stats for those unable to attend.
Chico State is a UCSD rival from the CCAA, with UCSD having gone 2-1 against the ‘Cats thus far in 2013. The sides split their two regular-season match-ups, each winning 1-0 on the road, before the Tritons eliminated the Wildcats, 2-1, in the CCAA semifinals last Friday afternoon on a Malek Bashti goal in overtime.
Seattle Pacific hails from the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. UCSD is 2-3 all-time against the Falcons, the last meeting coming on Oct. 25, 2008, with the Tritons winning 5-0 in La Jolla.
Cal State L.A. (14-1-5), which claimed its second CCAA title in three years Sunday, is the top seed in the West section of Super Region 4, and will host the other side of the bracket in Los Angeles. Fourth-seeded Simon Fraser (14-2-1) takes on the fifth seed, California Baptist (10-6-1), Thursday night at 7 p.m., with the winner getting the Golden Eagles Saturday night at 7 p.m. opposite UCSD’s match in La Jolla.
The two teams from the West who survive their contests this Saturday night, will hit the road the following weekend, to face each other in a third-round match at the home of the highest remaining seed in the South Central part of the Super Region 4.
There are no automatic qualifiers to the men’s tournament in the West. All six squads received at-large bids.
The 2013 NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer Championship begins this Thursday, Nov. 14, with a 35-team field. The semifinals and championship game will be held Dec. 5-7 for a second straight season at Blanchard Woods Park in Evans, Ga., with the Peach Belt Conference again serving as host. Florida’s Lynn topped Michigan’s Saginaw Valley State, 3-2, in Evans to win the 2012 national championship.
UCSD previously went 26-10-4 in 15 NCAA Division III Championship appearances between 1983-99 before moving up to Division II for the 2000 campaign. That history includes three national titles in 1988, 1991 and 1993. This year marks the 25th anniversary of that very first title-winning side, and 20th of the last national championship.
In their only previous Division II tournament experience 10 years ago, the Tritons were eliminated by Chico State in their opening match, 2-0, allowing two late goals in the Far West Regional semifinal in Carson on Nov. 14, 2003.