It's been 33 years since the last time the Buffalo State men's soccer team has earned a trip to the NCAA Division III Tournament, but the agonizing wait is over as Mark Howlett's Bengals have earned an at-large bid into the 2017 field after finishing fourth in the final Northeast Regional Rankings.
The news gets better for Buffalo State, too. The Bengals will host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament between Nov. 10-12 at Coyer Field; they'll take on Hobart in the first round, and if they advance, will face the winner of Messiah College and Castleton.
The home-field edge is massive for Buffalo State, which has recorded a 15-1-2 mark at Coyer over the last two seasons. Time details are still to be announced, but we will update this post shortly once we receive them.
Some uncertainty swirled over whether the Bengals could secure an at-large bid after losing in the SUNYAC quarterfinals, 2-0, to Geneseo. The tournament panel must have thought highly of Buffalo State's full body of work - a 14-2-3 overall record, the only undefeated mark in SUNYAC play (6-0-3) and a national ranking as high as No. 13.
The Medaille Mavericks, who sealed their bid with a dramatic 1-1 (5-4 PKs) win over Penn State-Behrend on Saturday, will travel to Westerville, Ohio, to face Otterbein University (17-2 overall) on Nov. 11, with the exact time still to be announced. The Cardinals won the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament on Saturday, beating Capital, 1-0.
The last time the Mavericks advanced to the NCAA Tournament was in 2012, but this year's achievement marks the first time under head coach Micky Blythe, who replaced Dan Krzyzanowicz at the helm three years ago.
Check out the entire NCAA Division III men's national tournament bracket here, at NCAA.org.
*MAGNIFICENT MESSIAH: One treat for local soccer fans is a visit from Messiah (18-2), who won the Division III National Championship 10 times between 2000 and 2013, a mark that will probably never be equaled.
But the Falcons haven't reached the final in the three years since, and they don't have the luxury of hosting the first two rounds after losing in the Middle Atlantic Conference finals, 2-1, to powerhouse Lycoming. Messiah will take on Castleton (12-6-2), a program from Vermont.
*Catch up with plenty of details on both sides that qualified for the NCAA Tournament: