Cal Poly

Cal Poly men’s soccer team gets at-large bid for NCAA Tournament, will face UCLA

Cal Poly soccer team players, Kody Wakasa (33), Ismail Seremba (7), Kaba Alkebulan (13) and Bjorn Sandberg (17) walk along the fans in the stands after winning a Big West Conference tournament game against UC Irvine on Nov. 7.
Cal Poly soccer team players, Kody Wakasa (33), Ismail Seremba (7), Kaba Alkebulan (13) and Bjorn Sandberg (17) walk along the fans in the stands after winning a Big West Conference tournament game against UC Irvine on Nov. 7. ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

For the first time in seven years, the Cal Poly men’s soccer team earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament following an announcement by the NCAA selection committee Monday morning.

The No. 21-ranked Mustangs received an at-large bid to the 48-team tournament and will face Pac-12 opponent UCLA in the first round Thursday at Drake Stadium. When Cal Poly last made the NCAA Tournament back in 2008, the Mustangs defeated the Bruins 1-0 for the program’s first and only championship tournament victory.

UCLA (10-8-1) hosted Cal Poly (11-4-4) during the regular season and overcame a 1-0 halftime deficit with a four-goal second half to seal the victory. The Bruins will be making their 43rd tournament appearance overall, having won four national championships as one of the premier programs in the country.

The winner of Thursday’s match will advance to play 11th-seeded Seattle next Sunday. The Redhawks have a first-round bye.

The Big West Conference qualified two other teams into the NCAA Tournament: regular season champion and No. 15 seed UC Santa Barbara and Big West tournament winner Cal State Fullerton.

The Atlantic Coast Conference led the way with seven teams making the field, including No. 1 overall seed Wake Forest. The American Athletic Conference, Big Ten Conference and Conference USA each advanced four teams into the tournament.

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