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Soccer team wins berth in NCAA tournament

Binghamton will play Harvard in the first round of the NCAA Division I men’s soccer tournament.

“I think playing the Ivy League champions will be a great challenge for our guys,” head coach Paul Marco said. “I think it’s going to be a very difficult match for us. We will certainly be the underdogs going into that match.”

The game starts at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11, in Boston. The winner will play UCLA, which was seeded eighth, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15, in Los Angeles.

“Hopefully a lot of family comes out, a lot of guys and student athletes come out and support us so it feels like a home game,” goalkeeper Jason Stenta said. “Hopefully we can go out there and get the goals and get the victory and move on to play UCLA.”

The Bearcats defeated Vermont on Saturday, Nov. 4, winning the America East Conference championship and earning one of 22 automatic bids to the tournament. Another 26 teams were selected at-large; only the top 16 were seeded.

Sophomore back Barry Neville converted a penalty kick with 58 seconds left in the first sudden-death overtime period, giving Binghamton the victory at West Gym Field.

“I think whenever you are playing games consistently, it’s an advantage,” Marco said. “And if they’re close and you find a way to win a game, it certainly breeds confidence late in a game when it’s very close. You’ve been there before and know what the feeling is like.”

The Bearcats finished with a 9-6-5 record. Harvard, meanwhile, enters the tournament 13-4-0, while UCLA went 10-5-4 in the regular season.

“We’ve played in Boston many times before,” team captain Kyle Antos said, “and Harvard is familiar with the America East and knows what we’re about and they’ll be ready for us.”

The 2006 NCAA Men’s College Cup will be held Dec. 1 and 3 in St. Louis, Mo., at Robert R. Hermann Stadium. Saint Louis University and the St. Louis Sports Commission will host the championship.

Binghamton just missed out on the NCAA tournament the past two years after earning runner-up finishes in the America East championship.

Three years ago, in its last trip to the NCAA tournament, Binghamton upset then-No. 15 Fairleigh Dickinson 1-0 in the opening round before losing its second-round contest at No. 7 St. Louis, 1-0 in overtime.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08