The road to Hoover, Alabama, and the NCAA Men's College Cup begins Thursday for Duke University freshman and Portland Timbers U-23s player Nick Palodichuk (above, right) with an NCAA First Round match against Georgia State.
Duke was one of 26 at-large bids selected on Monday during the NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament selection process.
The Blue Devils face the Georgia State Panthers in Durham, N.C., at 4 p.m. (PT) on Thursday. The winner advances to the second round to play the unbeaten University of New Mexico on Sunday.
Palodichuk, an All-ACC Second Team and All-Freshman Team selection this season after registering 20 points (7 goals, 6 assists) in 20 games for the Blue Devils (10-7-3 overall), isn't the only Timbers U-23s member to reach the postseason.
University of Alabama-Birmingham junior defender/forward Reed Matte, a Birmingham native, helped the Blazers (13-4-3) earn a first-round bye after a second-place finish in the Conference-USA tournament last weekend.
UAB, a No. 11 seed in the NCAA tournament, will host the winner of Furman/Charlotte in the NCAA Second Round on Sunday, Nov. 20 at 11 a.m. (PT) at West Campus Field in Birmingham.
"We are excited to be in the NCAA tournament and then finding out that you are one of the top seeds is pretty special for our soccer program," UAB head coach Mike Getman told UABsports.com on Monday. "Our guys have worked hard all year long and I know they are proud to get this kind of achievement."
UAB enters the tournament as one of the hotter teams as of late. The Blazers have lost just once in their last 10 contests (8-1-1), which came yesterday (Sunday) against Southern Methodist in the 2011 Conference-USA Tournament championship game.
Matte, an All-Conference-USA Second Team selection, led the Blazers with 1,864 minutes played this season, earning two goals in the process (both were game-winners).
One of the more prominent snubs by the selection committee was the University of Washington, which featured Timbers U-23s Player of the Year Brent Richards and teammate (on both UW and the Timbers U-23s) Dylan Tucker.
The Huskies were ranked 19th in the nation in the latest NSCAA Coaches poll on Nov. 8, finishing second in the Pacific-12 Conference with an 11-4-2 overall record, but it wasn't enough to convince the committee.
The University of Portland also missed out on the postseason action after a 1-0 loss to Santa Clara in the season's final match.