WVU soccer faces Butler in NCAA Tourney

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. The West Virginia University men’s soccer team will travel to Butler for the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday, Nov. 21, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The Mountaineers (9-8-2) learned their NCAA Tournament fate during Monday afternoon’s Men’s Soccer Selection Show. Kickoff at Butler’s Bud and Jackie Sellick Bowl is set for 6 pm. ET.

WVU, the 2019 Mid-American Conference Tournament champions, qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season and 14th time in program history.

“(I’ve said along the way that) we weren’t far off,” WVU coach Marlon LeBlanc said. “We were playing well but just kept scoring on ourselves and getting assists for opponents and missing some key players. We never really felt like we were far off. So, there wasn’t a whole lot of panic, ever. Usually, when you go on streaks in the negative direction, you can very quickly lose your team. That never happened in our locker room. I think it was because we were playing well but just struggling to get results. So, is it remarkable from the outside looking in? I’d say, ‘Yeah.’ From in-house, we’re a good team and have known we’re a good team.”

WVU is making back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time since 2010-11. The squad earned the MAC’s automatic bid after recording a 1-0 win over Bowling Green in the MAC Championship Final on Nov. 17, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Akron, Ohio. The win marked the program’s first-ever MAC Tournament title and its first conference tournament championship since 1992.

In all, West Virginia won three matches in six days to win the MAC title.

Junior goalkeeper Steven Tekesky made three saves in the final and nine in three games last week, earning Tournament MVP honors. Freshman midfielder Luke McCormick tallied a pair of assists in a 3-2, semifinal win over Western Michigan on Nov. 15, before registering the game-winning goal in the 86th minute against Bowling Green in Sunday’s final. The duo was named to the All-Tournament Team, along with sophomore forward Josh DiMatteo, who scored two goals in WVU’s semifinal win, and senior midfielder Ryan Kellogg.

The Mountaineers are making their sixth NCAA Tournament appearance under LeBlanc. The team also qualified in 2018, 2011, 2010, 2007 and 2006. Last year, the squad reached the second round before falling, 1-0, at Georgetown on Nov. 18, 2018.

Butler (11-6-2) is playing in the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time in program history and first since 2017. After advancing to the semifinals of the Big East Tournament, the Bulldogs earned an at-large bid and will host Thursday’s first-round matchup.

The winner between WVU and Butler will advance to the second round to face No. 11-seeded Marshall (15-2-3) on Sunday, Nov. 24.

The Men’s College Cup is slated to run from Dec. 13-15, at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina. All three College Cup contests will be nationally televised on ESPNU.

Forty-eight teams were selected to this year's NCAA Tournament, with 24 conference champions receiving automatic bids and 24 at-large berths. The top-16 seeded teams received a first round bye.