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Four first-timers make tournament
by Paul Kennedy, November 14th, 2011 8:07PM
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TAGS:  college men


[MEN'S PREVIEW] In its first year of eligibility, FGCU earned a berth to the NCAA Men's Tournament as Atlantic Sun champion. Despite its losing record, Elon got in as the Southern Conference champion. CSU Bakersfield and Georgia State are the two at-large selections making their first appearance in the Division I tournament proper. For a look at the four first-timers and reaction from their coaches ...

FGCU. Scott Harrison headed in the game’s only goal in the 89th minute to give the Eagles the Atlantic Sun championship with a 1-0 victory over defending champion ETSU. The Buccaneers won the 2010 conference regular-season title but were not yet cleared by the NCAA for postseason play. They will meet UCF -- which they beat in September -- in the first round on Thursday.

Reaction: “We have worked really hard to get here and it is a really proud moment for our guys to see our team in the NCAA tournament,” said FGCU's A-Sun Coach of the Year, Bob Butehorn. “I think it will be a completely different environment and a different team when we play UCF on Thursday. The team is excited about this matchup."

ELON. Elon (9-10-2) knocked off ranked Furman, 1-0, on senior Chris Thomas' goal in the 33rd minute and held on to beat top seed UNC Greensboro, 3-2, in the So-Con final after leading, 3-0, with 15 minutes to play. Jordan Smith scored two goal, and Gabe Latigue had a penalty kick, and Wake Forest transfer Nick Millington was named the tournament's MVP.

Reaction: “This is a fantastic first for the program,” said Elon coach Darren Powell. “It is something that we have been working towards and building for many years." First up for Elon: high-scoring Coastal Carolina.

GEORGIA STATE. Georgia State's key win came in the CAA quarterfinals, where the sixth-seeded Panthers beat No. 3 seed William & Mary, 2-1, on sophomore Evan Scott's header from eight yards out in the 77th minute. Georgia State (13-7-1), which was making its first-ever appearance in the CAA Tournament, then fell to Old Dominion, 5-3, in the semifinals. As it turned out, all four CAA semifinalists -- eventual champion Delaware, Old Dominion, James Madison and Georgia State -- are headed to the NCAA Tournament. GSU, who travels to Duke on Thursday, previously came close to making the NCAA Tournament twice, losing play-in games in 1997 and 2000.

Reaction: "I am so excited I can't put it into words, I am really proud of the guys," Georgia State coach Brett Surrency said. "To be in this position is unbelievable. It's a tribute to the guys and the work they put into this program over the last couple of years. We're anxious to train tomorrow and get ready for Duke."

CSU BAKERFSFIELD. An own goal was all that kept CSU Bakersfield from knocking off unbeaten New Mexico in the MPSF final. The Lobos went on to win on penalty kicks after their game ended in a 1-1 tie. CSU Bakersfield, a former Division II power, finished 12-3-5. The Roadrunners, who host St. Mary's on Thursday, are led by sophomore sensation Gyasi Zardes, tied for third in the nation with 18 goals.

Reaction: "I am proud for our team, I am proud for CSU Bakersfield,” said CSUB head coach Simon Tobin. "We’ve been Division I for two years and a lot of schools would like to be in that selection. It is a good feeling."

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