Men's Soccer Earns At-Large Bid to NCAA Tournament, Grabs One of 16 National Seeds, First Round Bye

2012 NCAA College Cup Bracket

RICHMOND, Va. – After turning in one of its finest regular seasons in recent memory, the VCU Men's Soccer team learned Monday evening it has at least one more game on its schedule this year.  The Rams received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament are one of 16 teams to earn a national seed and first round bye.

VCU, the 14-seed in this year's event, will host the winner of Thursday's matchup between Syracuse and Cornell on Sunday, Nov. 18.  Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Sports Backers Stadium.  The Rams have been a national seed in each of their last three trips to the NCAA Tournament.  VCU was the No. 9 seed in 2003 and No. 16 seed in 2004. 

"I was very happy for the guys tonight.  After all they have been through this year, to see VCU come up with the 14-seed next to our name, I'm not going to lie, it was an emotional moment," said VCU Head Coach Dave Giffard.  "Although there will come a time where we expect to be in this situation as a seed, year in and year out, tonight was the first time this group of players has been in the NCAA's, so we'll enjoy the moment before we get back to work tomorrow.  Now we have a week to get ready for what will be a very tough match between the winner of Syracuse and Cornell on Sunday night at Sports Backers." 

VCU, which went 12-3-5 in its first season in the Atlantic 10, made a run to the conference championship match before falling to nationally ranked Saint Louis on Sunday.  Its three losses are the program's fewest since 1993.

The Rams, who return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since appearing in the regional final in 2004, have posted 23 wins over the past two seasons under third-year Head Coach Dave Giffard.  Prior to his arrival in 2010, VCU had finished above .500 just once in the previous five years.

According to the latest NCAA statistics released Nov. 4, VCU ranks ninth in the nation in scoring (2.24 gpg), 12th in total goals (38) and 15th in points (109).  Individually, junior Jason Johnson ranks eighth nationally in both points (32) and points per game (1.88), 10th in goals scored (13) and 11th in goals per game (0.76).  Meanwhile, sophomore Mario Herrera Meraz, who scored both game-winning goals in a pair of 1-0 victories in the A-10 Tournament, ranks 20th in the NCAA with eight assists.