Colorado Off to 12th NCAA Tournament
BOULDER — Colorado soccer will head back to North Carolina as one of the 48 teams selected to the NCAA Tournament on Monday. The Buffaloes, an at-large selection, will take on South Alabama in the first round on Apr. 27 (5 p.m. MT) at Bryan Park in Greensboro, N.C.
"I can make the argument that the length of the season, all the challenges everybody had to go through, the shrunk-down bracket with less at large slots that this might be our best regular season we've ever had," head coach Danny Sanchez explained after the selections were announced. "Going into the last stretch of games we knew we had to get results, and we did against very good teams. I couldn't be more proud of this group."
CU's selection marks the 12th in program history and the sixth since Coach Sanchez took over in 2012. It is CU's second consecutive trip to the tournament and its fourth in five seasons. Colorado is 10-11-1 all-time in tournament games, advancing to the third round in both 2006 and 2013.
"It was pure excitement [to hear Colorado announced]," junior Hannah Sharts exclaimed. "We've worked so hard since the end of June to get to this point. We've done all the right things and I'm really happy we got rewarded in the end. We're not done yet. We're very excited."
The Buffs finished the regular season on a four-match unbeaten streak, knocking off Oregon, No. 17 Arizona State and Utah. CU boasted the most ranked wins in program history this season, defeating No. 10 California, No. 14 USU and the aforementioned Sun Devils. CU also had a quality win in the season-opener against Denver, the winners of the Summit League Championship.
Colorado, one of five Pac-12 teams to make the tournament, finished 5-4-2 in the conference this season, besting its mark of three wins in the 2019 season.
"I felt that we deserved a spot in the 48-team bracket," Sanchez continued. "We look forward to competing with South Alabama. They are a very good team. Very well-coached and are always in the tournament. It'll be a huge challenge for us, but we're excited to have the opportunity."
Next Tuesday's contest will be the first meeting between the Buffs and the Jaguars. South Alabama finished its season with a 13-8-1 overall record and defeated Arkansas State in the Sun Belt Championship back in November. The Jaguars played eight spring matches, going 3-5 leading up to the NCAA Tournament.
Different from previous tournaments, all 48 teams will travel to North Carolina. Previously the tournament featured a 64-team field, with matches hosted on campus sites. This season matches will take place at various campus locations including Campbell, East Carolina, UNC Wilmington, UNC Greensboro and Wake Forest. Off-campus sites include Bryan Park (Greensboro), J. Burt Gillette Athletic Complex (Wilson, N.C.), Sportsplex (Matthews, N.C.) and WakeMed Soccer Park (Cary, N.C.).