There’s not much the Urbana University men’s soccer team plans to do differently against a familiar foe today, except one thing.
Mountain East Conference rivals Urbana and Charleston meet for the third time, this time in the NCAA Division II tournament. No. 3 Urbana (13-4-2) plays at top-seeded Charleston (18-2) at 7 p.m. today. MEC champion Charleston won both league meetings, 4-1 and 4-0, against second-place Urbana.
“We’ll probably tweak a few things but by and large we’ll play the way we like to play,” Urbana coach Nick Roberts said. “We have talent out there and approach it that way. I’ll tell the guys it’s a different day and a different tournament.
“It’s another game and it’s another opportunity. In many respects we have nothing to lose. People didn’t expect us to be there. As far as I’m concerned we’ll keep winning and keep moving forward.”
The winner plays either No. 1 Southern New Hampshire or No. 2 LIU Post in the quarterfinals 7 p.m. Saturday. The highest remaining seed hosts.
The Blue Knights are the first team from Urbana to qualify for an NCAA Tournament. They debuted with a 1-0 win at No. 2 Millersville, Pa., on Sunday.
France’s Raoui Lassoued, England’s Lewis Dunne and Scotland’s Mike McFarlane share the team lead in goals with seven. Dunne had a team-high 20 points, Lassoued 17 and McFarlane 16.
Keeper Nathan Jones of Wales has allowed 14 goals for a goals-against average of 0.84.
Urbana’s NCAA Tournament run has already given recruiting a boost. Roberts said the program has received an increase in emails from potential recruits.
“Locally and nationally it creates a name for ourselves,” Roberts said. “I think it gives the sense this is a stable and growing program that can compete on the national level. I said that seven years ago when I came here, that we wanted to put the team on the national level, and we’ve done that. It helps the visibility of our school and our other sports teams are going to follow.
“The amount of support we’ve had — locally from the community and from the university — I’ve been quite taken aback by that. It’s been an exciting year and we hope to keep this thing going.”