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Conference continues to make mark in selections, on-field results
The Atlantic Coast Conference continues to write another chapter in its long history of postseason Olympic Fall Sports success.
Monday brought news that six ACC teams – the most of any conference – had been selected to the 48-team field for the NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship. Notre Dame (12-1-6) claimed the No. 3 seed, while ACC Champion Maryland (13-3-5) received the No. 5 seed. Eighth-seeded Virginia (10-5-5) and 14th-seeded Wake Forest (9-5-5) also received first-round byes and the right to host a second round game. North Carolina and Clemson were selected as at-large teams.
Thursday night brought the start of the second round of the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship and saw Florida State topple Ole Miss, 3-1, behind two goals from Dagny Brynjarsdottir and a pair of assists from Jamia Fields. It marked the ninth straight year that the Seminoles have advanced to at least the third round of the NCAAs.
“I think one of the things from a soccer perspective is the consistency,” FSU head coach Mike Krikorian said. “I think there are a lot of programs out there that are one-year wonders, and they have a good season or two, but the commitment of our University to our soccer program is fantastic. They afforded me the chance to go and get a great staff and go out and find top players like these guys and have great facilities and have a beautiful field … they just give us every advantage that we could have.”
The ACC, which boasts all four No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship field, will have more chances to pile up postseason wins. All eight conference teams that were selected advanced past last week’s first round. ACC teams own an 8-0-1 record in NCAA play thus far and stand 71-12-7 overall (.827) against nonconference opposition this season.
ACC men’s soccer programs have won 15 national titles – including five of the past eight – and have combined to make 46 trips to NCAA College Cup. ACC women’s soccer teams have won a combined 24 NCAA titles and have appeared in the NCAA College Cup 30 of the 31 years the event has been held.
The NCAA Field Hockey Championship resumes Friday at Norfolk, Va., with three ACC teams among the four-team semifinal field. ACC champion Maryland (22-1) faces league rival Duke (16-6) at 2 p.m., followed by North Carolina (18-5) vs. Connecticut (19-4) at 4:45 p.m.
The ACC is seeking its 11th NCAA field hockey title in 12 seasons and its 18th overall. This marks the 14th consecutive year that at least half the semifinal field has consisted of ACC teams. Sunday’s 4 p.m. championship game will mark the 15th consecutive year that the ACC has been represented by at least one team. Still, it remains one thing the conference and its coaches don’t take for granted.
“It never ever gets old, and it's never easy to get there,” North Carolina head coach Karen Shelton said.
Saturday will mark the first completed competition of the 2013-14 academic year as the NCAA Cross Country Championship final will take place at Terre Haute, Ind.
Syracuse and Virginia earned automatic berths to the NCAA Men’s Cross Country Championship after placing first and second in their respective regionals. North Carolina, NC State and Notre Dame earned at-large bids. The NCAA Women’s Championship saw Florida State and Virginia claim regional titles, while Notre Dame and Syracuse received at-large bids.
Individual qualifiers include Virginia Tech’s Thomas Curtin and Florida State’s Bryant Blahnik on the men’s side, while Duke’s Juliet Bottorff, NC State’s Joanna Thompson, North Carolina’s Annie LeHardy and Virginia Tech’s Sarah Rapp qualified on the women’s side.
The ACC volleyball regular season does not end until Nov. 30, but with three teams ranked in the most recent AVCA poll -- No. 13 Duke, No. 14 North Carolina and No. 19 Florida State – the conference is hopeful of a strong postseason showing there as well.
In the meantime, a couple of conferences coaches have reached or are closing in on milestones. Florida State’s Chris Poole notched his 700th career win last Sunday versus Notre Dame, and North Carolina’s Joe Sagula owns 699 heading into this Sunday’s match against Maryland.