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Villanova earn first ever NCAA berth

Wildcats sqeaked into the field of 48 with an at-large bid

Matt Ralph

For the first time in program history, Villanova will be in the men’s soccer version of the Big Dance.

Villanova earned an at-large bid in the field of 48 that was announced on Monday. A bubble team after falling short of the automatic bid in the semifinal of the Big East Championship to the champion Butler Bulldogs, the Wildcats were selected on the strength of their schedule and a No. 38 ranking in the RPI.

Their reward for finally breaking the barrier is a first-round match-up in Akron, Ohio on Thursday with 2015 College Cup team Akron. The 2010 national champions won the regular season and tournament titles in the Mid-American Conference and have arguably the best player in the nation on their team in senior midfielder Adam Najem, a former New York Red Bulls Academy player.

Big Ten power Indiana awaits if Villanova (10-7-2) are able to get the better of the Zips (12-5-3).

Two other teams from the region made the field both through automatic bids. Delaware will visit Big East regular season champs Providence and get No. 1 overall seed Maryland if they advance while Rider will visit Burlington, Vermont to take on Vermont in the first round. Twelfth-seeded Virginia will get the winner.

Temple, which had a strong season and went unbeaten in their first year at Temple Sports Complex, were left out of the field even though they had a slightly higher winning percentage than Villanova at 10-6-2 based on strength of schedule. The Owls finished the season ranked 84th in the RPI.

Click here for the full bracket.