No surprise, North Carolina and Duke are going back to the NCAA women’s soccer championship.
So is just about everybody in the ACC.
For the second straight year, a record nine ACC schools were chosen for the 64-team bracket, which was announced by the NCAA on Monday. Last year three of them – Duke, Florida State and Wake Forest – made it to the College Cup, soccer’s final four.
This year, regular-season champion Florida State earned the only No. 1 seed from the conference, but North Carolina and ACC tournament champion Virginia were named No. 2 seeds as six ACC schools were seeded for a record fifth straight year.
The other three No. 1 seeds went to reigning champion Stanford (17-1-1), Brigham Young (18-1-1) and Penn State (17-3-1).
Duke and Wake Forest got No. 3 seeds, and Maryland was a No. 4 seed. Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech also made the field, and only Miami will have to play on the road in the first round. The other eight ACC schools will host first-round games, including Virginia Tech, which didn’t even make it into the eight-team ACC tournament bracket.
“Virginia Tech might be the best ninth-place team in the country,” Wake Forest coach Tony da Luz said at the time.
Duke (12-5-2) will host Loyola, Md. (12-5-4) at 4 p.m. Saturday, and UNC (10-5-2) will host Radford (14-2-4) at 5 p.m. Should the seeds hold up, that would put the Blue Devils on a collision course with Virginia for a game in Charlottesville two rounds later.
“I knew we were right there for a (No.) 3 or 4 seed,” Duke coach Robbie Church said. “It could have fallen either way. I thought maybe the loss to Wake Forest might have pushed us back.”
Loyola is coached by a former Duke player, Katherine Remy Vettori, who played for former coach Bill Hempen in 1992-1995 and was a two-time All-ACC forward-midfielder.
Three ACC teams will host games Friday: La Salle (17-4-1) at Virginia (16-4-1), 6 p.m.; Hofstra (11-8-2) at Boston College (10-7-3), 7 p.m.; and Mississippi Valley State (8-9-3) – the only team in the field with a losing record – at Florida State (16-3), 7 p.m.
Saturday’s schedule also has Miami (9-7-3) at Central Florida (17-4-1), 6 p.m.; Stony Brook (12-6-3) at Maryland (13-6-2), 7 p.m.; and Georgia Southern (10-7-5) at Wake Forest (13-5-3), 7 p.m.
On Sunday, it will be Georgetown (15-3-3) at Virginia Tech (13-5-1) at 5 p.m.