The NC State men’s soccer team, after finishing the regular season with a record of 8-5-3 (3-4-1 ACC) and making it to the quarterfinals of the ACC Championship, was selected on Monday to host Coastal Carolina in the first round of the NCAA Championship on Thursday at 7 p.m.
The Chanticleers made the tournament via winning the Sun Belt Championship, defeating Georgia State in the finals. The men’s soccer NCAA Championship bracket is slightly different compared to other NCAA brackets as only 48 teams make the tournament and the top 16 get first-round byes. The winner of the match between the Pack and Chanticleers will face No. 8 SMU in the second round.
Both teams’ offenses are led by underclassman forwards from across the pond as sophomore Kuda Muskwe (five goals, one assist) and freshman Sam Snaith (eight goals, one assist) are leading each team in scoring.
Snaith, coming in at 6-foot-4, will be a handful for the Pack’s backline as well as midfielder Tyrone Mondi who has six goals and three assists on the season.
Defensively both teams have a solid senior shot-stopper with the Pack’s redshirt senior Vinnie Durand and the Chanticleers’ senior Alberto Ciroi both having a stellar season in net. Both average just slightly over one goal per game and Ciroi narrowly beats Durand out in save percentage with .687 compared to Durand’s .632.
While the Pack plays in the best conference in college soccer, the Chanticleers, despite their conference, have faced their fair share of tough opponents this season. After facing Clemson and Duke in exhibition games, Coastal Carolina faced off against four ranked teams in a row to start the regular season, beating two of them.
While the Pack has the better pedigree and should win this game, it will be no cakewalk for head coach George Kiefer and his team.
The match will kick off at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Dail Soccer Field and the winner will go on to face SMU in the second round on Sunday, Nov. 24.