Wilmington Men’s Soccer Earns At-Large Bid as No. 6 Seed in NCAA Division II East Regional Championship
Monday, November 11, 2013 - Newark, Del.
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The 2013 senior class along with head coach Nick Papanicolas (fourth from right) earned the program's second bid into the NCAA East Regional Championship on Monday night. Copyright 2013; Wilmington University. All rights reserved.
The season continues for the Wilmington University men’s soccer team as the NCAA Division II Selection Committee slotted the team in the No. 6 seed in the East Region, as announced by the NCAA on Monday evening through its Selection Show.
Despite losing to nationally fifth ranked Post in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Semifinal round last Wednesday, the Wildcats’ (12-5-2 overall) strength of schedule and results against strong teams in both the East and the Mid-Atlantic Regions allowed the committee to give Wilmington the final spot in the East Regional Tournament.
“My heart was thumping here tonight too,” 10th year head coach Nick Papanicolas said. “It’s a great accomplishment for our program. It’s only our second time going in 10 years (2009 season). I think about all the players in our program that didn’t get to go and now these guys get to represent our University. It’s a second chance for us. For the committee to look into our strength of schedule and how seriously we take that and how important we think that is and doing well against them really helped us. In some ways I’m really surprised, but at the same time we’ve had some great results this year.”
The first and second rounds of the Wildcats’ portion of the bracket will be hosted by No. 2 Southern New Hampshire at Larkin Field. The first round game against No. 3 Post will begin at 7 p.m. The Penmen (18-1) will face the winner of that contest Saturday at 1:00, with the winner of that game advancing to the East Region final next weekend.
“To be honest with you, I didn’t believe it,” senior Todd Woll said after seeing his team made the field. “I knew we had a small chance to get in, but seeing our name up on the screen, especially with the matchup we ended up receiving is unbelievable for me. Our season isn’t over yet.”
The other first round matchup on Thursday features No. 4 Dowling (11-4-3) against No. 5 NYIT (13-4) at 1 p.m. in Brookhaven, N.Y. Top seeded LIU Post will host the first two rounds in the other half of the East Region Bracket and play the winner on Saturday.
"I was nervous,” senior Otis Williams said about his feelings prior to the selection show. “We were talking about it at home but then we got here and that is when it (the nerves) really hit me. We were all trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together at home and none of us could ever figure it out exactly, so we were very unsure until we heard our name on the screen.
The Wildcats square off against a familiar foe; the team that ended their run in the CACC Tournament in the previous two seasons. Post advanced on PKs, 4-2, last week in the CACC Semifinals after the teams played to a 1-1 tie through regulation and a pair of overtime periods. Post also knocked Wilmington out in the 2012 CACC Tournament Semifinals with a 1-0 victory on Post’s home field.
“A win (in CACC Semifinals) would have really helped us,” Papanicolas continued about the chances of his team earning on of the six at-large bids. “If we would have won that game, I would have really liked our chances. I thought we were less than 50 percent after that result, however. But at the end of the day, that tie ended up helping us with the other results around the region.”
Williams and Woll have seen the Eagles on four separate occasions in the past two seasons and shared similar feelings.
That in itself is something big because I have played Post four times and lost every single time, with coming close on more than one occasion,” Williams said of their CACC rival. “Not only is it an important NCAA game, it’s an important grudge match for me personally. It’s going to be really fiery when we go up there.”
More information will follow on Tuesday with ticket prices for both games and way to follow if fans are unable to make the trip to Manchester, N.H. over the weekend.
NCAA East Region Tournament:
1 – LIU Post* (17-1-2)
2 – Southern New Hampshire* (18-1)
3 – Post (15-2-2)
4 – Dowling (11-4-3)
5 – NYIT (13-4)
6 – Wilmington (12-5-2)