Bears earn at-large bid to NCAA tournament

Assistant Sports Editor
Monday, November 14, 2011

The men’s soccer team earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament last night, extending its season for at least one more game.

Bruno will face Fairfield University (12-4-1) Thursday night at Stevenson Field, with the winner advancing to take on No. 9 St. John’s University.

“We played against Fairfield my freshman year in a scrimmage, and they are a talented team,” said Ryan McDuff ’13. “They have a lot of experience with a few international players as well as two grad students, so it’s going to be a good team.”

The Bears were named Ivy League co-champions with Dartmouth Saturday after battling the Big Green to a 0-0 draw and after Columbia and Cornell tied later that night. Bruno recorded an overall record of 10-4-3 on the season, finishing 4-1-2 in Ivy League play and going undefeated in its final eight games.

But because Dartmouth defeated third-place Columbia and Brown lost to the Lions, the Big Green captured the Ivy League’s automatic berth to the NCAA tournament. Bruno was forced to endure a weekend of anticipation as they awaited the results of the NCAA selection show yesterday at 4:30 p.m.

“Everyone was anxious all day,” McDuff said. “I saw a few of the guys in passing going to class, and you could tell everyone was just a little nervous about getting in.”

The Bears found themselves in a similar situation as last season, when they earned an at-large bid to the tournament and went on to defeat No. 25 Boston College and No. 9 University of Connecticut before losing in the Sweet 16 to No. 6 University of California at Berkeley.

If the Bears are able to navigate past the Stags, they will advance to take on No. 9 St. John’s, a team they battled to a 0-0 draw on Oct. 4.

But the squad must focus on Fairfield before they consider the possibility of advancing.

“It’s good to see St. John’s since we are familiar with them, but Coach (Patrick Laughlin) stressed that Fairfield is first,” McDuff said. “The draw doesn’t mean anything if we don’t take advantage of it. We need to concentrate one game at a time.”

The Bears and the Stags square off Thursday at 7 p.m. at Stevenson Field.

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