With the Penn State men’s soccer team gathered in the HUB Robeson Center on campus to learn their fate, the Nittany Lions have their road to the College Cup laid out.
The Nittany Lions (12-5-1) will face Hartwick (6-9-4) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, in a draw announced Monday afternoon. The game will be played at 7 p.m. Thursday at Jeffrey Field.
Penn State will be making its second straight and 32nd overall appearance in the tournament, earning a bid as an at-large entry.
“This is a great achievement and I’m happy our body of work has earned us a spot in the tournament,” coach Bob Warming said at the watch party at the HUB. “We look forward to hosting Hartwick, who has been a hot team as of late, and playing once again at Jeffrey Field in front of our great fans.”
While Penn State did not earn a seed for the tournament, and will have to hit the road the rest of the way if it wants to advance to the College Cup, the team likely will not have to travel nearly as much as last season, when the tournament took them to Santa Barbara, Calif., and Albuquerque, New Mexico.
A win would send the Nittany Lions to No. 9 seed Syracuse for the second round Sunday, with No. 8 Georgetown, No. 16 Virginia and top-seeded and defending champion Notre Dame also in that quarter of the draw.
Penn State began the season 10-0-1 and was the nation’s last unbeaten Division I team, but has closed with a 2-5 record.
The Hawks, from Oneonta, N.Y., were the Sun Belt Conference Champions and will make their 24th tournament appearance, although it will be their first since 2005.
Hartwick’s roster is filled with international flavor, with only seven members on the 24-man roster hailing from the U.S.
Thursday’s match begins a weekend filled with soccer, with the second-seeded Penn State women hosting Connecticut in the NCAA second round at 7 p.m. Friday, and the winner meeting either Virginia Tech or Georgetown (who battle at 4:30 p.m. Friday at Jeffrey Field) at 1 p.m. Sunday.