Niagara Gazette — The Purple Eagles will be facing Big Blue in their first trip to the Big Dance.
Having qualified for the NCAA tournament, also known as the College Cup, for the first time in the 43-year history of the program, Niagara's men's soccer team learned Monday that it will play its first round game at 7 p.m. Thursday at Michigan.
"It's a great feeling seeing the reaction form the guys when our name went up and that's what it's all about," said Chase Brooks, Niagara's second-year coach. "It's a great moment for Niagara men's soccer. Michigan is a very godo side and the team is coached very well. It's going to be a very tough opponent and we're just excited to play them."
Michigan is 10-9-1 on the season and went 3-2-1 in Big 10 play. The Wolverines lost to Michigan State in the Big 10 title game.
Niagara (13-1-4) defeated Loyola in Saturday's Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship game, winning 1-0 on Bryan Da Cruz's double-overtime goal.
"We're definitely happy to be here, but we're in it to win it and that's the bottom line," Brooks said. "We like to make things difficult for ourselves sometimes, but we're the type of team that we'll always find a way to get the job done. I've been to the NCAA tournament with two other schools before so I know that it takes at this level and I'm just excited to help out these boys and see how far they can go."
The winner of Thursday's game will play at fifth-seeded Akron on Sunday.
Niagara is currently the top-ranked team in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America North Atlantic Poll and was the highest vote-getter outside the NSCAA's national top 25 poll.