The Winthrop Eagles will play at William and Mary in the first round of the NCAA men's soccer's College Cup. They will travel to Williamsburg, Va., and play the Tribe at 7 p.m. Friday.
William and Mary earned an at-large bid into the tournament after losing in the semifinals of the Colonial Athletic Conference championship. Winthrop earned an automatic berth as Big South Champion.
This is Winthrop's third appearance in the tournament. The Eagles, the preseason pick to win the Big South Conference championship, went 15-5-1, tying the record for most wins in a single season since the school's move to Division I.
W&M will make its 13th appearance and the first since the program advanced to the third round in 2002. It will be the third NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament game hosted by the Tribe in Williamsburg and the first in 16 years.
Members of the Winthrop team stared at a television in the Eagle Club room inside the Coliseum on Monday night as the selection show aired on ESPN News. They didn't have to wait long to learn who and where they would play. The matchup was the first pairing announced.
Winthrop is 0-2 in College Cup games. In 2002, they lost, 6-0, to North Carolina. The Tar Heels were a year removed from a national championship. In 2006, the Eagles went to penalty shots before losing to CAA member Old Dominion, a team that advanced to the Sweet 16.
Senior Daniel Revivo, Winthrop's all-time leading scorer at the Division I level, played in that game and said the 2008 Eagles have grown.
"I think we were less mature as a team then. We are more capable of making the next step now," Revivo said. He scored the game-winning goal in the second overtime Sunday to beat Coastal Carolina in the BSC tournament championship game.
"We are a lot more focused this year. We never stopped believing in ourselves. This is where we wanted to be," he said.
Junior Matt Skonicki, who was named the BSC tournament MVP, said the expectations have been high for Winthrop since he arrived.
"The whole coaching staff and the training staff gets the credit. We have had high expectations, and we hold ourselves to them," Skonicki said. " We've had a target on us. We have understood that and delivered."
William & Mary sophomore midfielder Nat Baako earned first-team All-CAA honors, while junior forward Andrew Hoxie was a second-team selection this year. Hoxie scored a pair of goals to go along with an assist in the Tribe's loss to George Mason.
"They are a good draw for us," Winthrop coach Rich Posipanko said. "We played ODU in 2006. We know the level of play in that conference."
"To win would be huge. We were so close in 2006," Revivo said.
The 2006 season was what triggered defender Cameron Alksnis to transfer from Maine to Winthrop.
"The '06 team was the reason I came here," the junior said.
Alksnis' work on Liberty forward Joshua Boateng helped the Eagles advance to the conference finals. He was named to the all-tournament team.
Alksnis dedicated the season to his father, who passed away last December from cancer.
"He wanted us to achieve the most we could," Alksnis said.
Season highlights: Big South regular season and tournament champions; College Cup South Regional (Lost to North Carolina, 6-0, at Chapel Hill, N.C.); Ranked 9th in the South Region
Season highlights: Big South regular season and tournament champions; College Cup South Atlantic Regional (played to a 0-0 tie with Old Dominion then lost, 4-3, on penalty shots at Norfolk, Va.)
Season highlights: Big South regular season and tournament champions