Texas is back in the NCAA tournament after a one-year hiatus and will face James Madison in the opening round on Friday in Chapel Hill, N.C.
“At this time of the year, your goal is to get into the tournament,” Texas head coach Chris Petrucelli said. “We’re excited to be in it, and we’re excited to get a chance to continue to play.”
The Longhorns (11-5-4) earned one of the 34 at-large bids, while James Madison (14-6-1) automatically qualified by winning the Colonial Athletic Association conference tournament.
Texas has never played James Madison, but the Longhorns did play Navy and William & Mary this season, two teams that also faced James Madison.
East Coast soccer teams usually play a more finessed brand of soccer, different from the physical style that has percolated through Big 12 programs.
“We’ve played some teams from that area [this season], so that will help some,” Petrucelli said.
Texas has eight players on its roster that were on the team the last time the Longhorns made the tournament, but also start a host of young players who lack experience in the postseason. Petrucelli isn’t concerned with his team’s preparedness, though, and thinks the Longhorns’ tough schedule has gotten his team where it needs to be.
“Every game we’ve played this year has prepared them,” Petrucelli said. “We’ve played a number of NCAA tournament teams and we’ve been working hard all year to play in this tournament.”
The Longhorns are making their ninth appearance in the NCAA tournament and will look to improve on their 6-8-1 tournament record.