8 NC teams still kicking in NCAA Soccer tournaments

Three women’s teams and five men’s teams are still alive in the race for the College Cup

The NCAA men's College Cup returns to WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary this year, while the women's College Cup will be held in Santa Clara, California. (Karl B. DeBlaker / AP Photo)

For the fourth straight year, the NCAA Men’s College Cup will be held at Cary’s WakeMed Soccer Park. The Women’s Cup, meanwhile, is taking a break from Cary after three years at WakeMed, but North Carolina is threatening to have representation when that event tips off in Santa Clara, California.

Three teams from the state advanced to the second round of the NCAA women’s soccer tournament.

NC State beat South Florida 2-0 in the opening round and will now face No. 4 Pepperdine. State is 9-8-2 this season and was 4-6 in ACC play. The Wolfpack is back in the tournament after missing last season and snapping a string of four straight appearances.

Also in that region is Wake Forest, who shut out Harvard 3-0 in the first round. That earned the Demon Deacons a date with second-seeded Michigan in the next round. Wake is 16-5 on the year and finished 6-4 in the ACC, getting eliminated in the ACC Tournament semifinals by Florida State in overtime. The Deacs are making their first NCAA appearance since 2017.

Both State and Wake will take the field on Friday, with State starting at 2 p.m. and Wake at 5 p.m.

While both State and Wake will need upsets to advance from their region — especially with No. 1 Florida State still looming in both teams’ paths, Duke has earned a top seed in its region. The Blue Devils are 14-3-1 and finished third in the ACC with a 7-2‑1 mark. They were knocked out of the ACC Tournament by Wake Forest in their first game.

This is Duke’s seventh straight appearance in the tournament and 12th in the last 13 years. The Blue Devils have made it to the Sweet 16 eight times over that span. In NCAA play this year, the Blue Devils beat Old Dominion 1-0 in the first round and next face Memphis at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.

North Carolina also made the women’s field and was seeded No. 2 in its region, but the Tar Heels suffered a 1-0 first-round upset at the hands of South Carolina. It was the first time in the history of the program that the Tar Heels lost an opening round match, and it snapped a streak of three straight trips to the College Cup. The UNC season ended at 12-3-3.

The men’s tournament starts Thursday, and five teams from the state will be competing.

Like the women’s field, Duke is the highest-seeded team from North Carolina. The Blue Devils’ men are No. 7 overall and received a bye into the second round, which will be played on Sunday. Duke will play the winner of UCLA and UC Santa Barbara.

This is the first bid for the Duke men since 2018 and just the third in the last decade. Duke earned the bye with a 13-4-1 regular season record, including 5-2-1 in ACC play, which tied them for first in the Coastal Division. The Blue Devils lost to Notre Dame in the finals of the ACC Tournament, 2-0.

The other four local teams will all play in the first round.

North Carolina faces Loyola Maryland on Thursday. The winner of that game will move on to face No. 16 New Hampshire. The Tar Heels are making their second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament and 13th in the last 14 years. UNC went 11-6-1 this year and 4-4 in the ACC.

Wake Forest rounds out the ACC teams from the state in the field. The Demon Deacons open at home with Mercer. The winner goes on to play No. 13 FIU. The Deacs are making their 11th straight trip to the tourney and hope to reach the College Cup for the third time in six seasons. They went 11-6-1 this year, including 4-3-1 in ACC play.

The Campbell Camels also make an appearance. They’ll open at Virginia Tech, with the winner going on to meet No. 11 West Virginia. It’s the third NCAA bid in four years for the Camels, who won the Big South regular season and tournament. Campbell enters the tournament at 15-3-2 on the year and unbeaten in their last 10 at 9-0-1.

Charlotte rounds out the state’s entries in the tourney. The 49ers have the toughest road. After an opening round game with Georgia State, the winner will next face No. 3 Georgetown. The 49ers are making their third straight trip to the tournament and ninth in the last 11 years. Charlotte enters play at 10-5-1 on the year.