North Florida and Utah Valley earn first NCAA men's bids

North Florida (10-6-1) and Utah Valley (14-5-2) are making their first appearance in the NCAA Division I Men’s Tournament. North Florida qualified as the Atlantic Sun champion while Utah Valley, the WAC runner-up, earned an at-large bid in just its second season as a varsity program.

NORTH FLORIDA. The Ospreys qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 25 years as a Division I or Division II program with a 7-0 win over USC Upstate in the Atlantic Sun final. They led, 2-0, at the half and broke the game open with four goals in less than 11 minutes to start the second half. The seven goals are the most ever in a single game in the program's Division I era.

Senior Helge Pietschmann scored three of the goals and became the first player ever to record a hat trick in the A-Sun title game. Senior Alex Morrell became the first Osprey since 2001 to be credited with three assists in a game.
 
"We couldn't have written a better script, to have this happen tonight, the way we played, everything seemed to fall into place," said Coach Derek Marinatos, the 2015 Atlantic Sun co-Coach of the Year. "For Helge to come off the bench and have a hat trick was unbelievable, but a credit to our whole team, we were able to play everyone tonight. I'm speechless, I'm so excited."

North Florida opens at Coastal Carolina on Thursday.

UTAH VALLEY. UVU was within three minutes of winning the WAC title when it conceded a tying goal from the penalty spot to Seattle, which eventually won Sunday's final in s shootout.

The Wolverines (14-5-2), which travels to Dallas to face SMU in the first round, become the first athletic program from UVU to earn a team at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament. Their big win during the regular season was a 2-1 win over Big West champion Cal State Fullerton.

UVU was the second seed in the WAC Tournament behind Seattle, which earned a first-round bye in the NCAA Tournament. The WAC relaunched men's soccer in 2013 after it was forced to drop football. In addition to Utah Valley, Texas Rio Grande Valley started a program this season. Other members of the conference include former MPSF programs like San Jose State, Air Force and UNLV and former Division II programs Grand Canyon and Incarnate Word.

"Today was another historic moment for our young program, and I could not be more proud and happy for these young men," said head coach Greg Maas. "SMU has a rich soccer history, and we are looking forward to a great match in Dallas."
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