From staff reports
Both the Clayton College & State University men's and women's soccer teams received news late Monday evening that they will be headed to the "Big Dance."
The "Big Dance" is the NCAA Division II National Soccer Championships, and both Clayton State soccer teams have received bids to the national tournament, the invitation for the men's team will be the third appearance in the national tournament, while the bid for the women's squad will be the program's first.
Peach Belt Conference champion the University of North Carolina Pembroke will host the men's NCAA Division II Southeast Regional on Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 11-13.
The third team in the regional will be Queens University. Clayton State will face Queens in the first round match on Thursday at 7 p.m. with winner of Thursday's match meeting UNCP in the regional final on Saturday at 7 p.m.
The women's Southeast Regional will be hosted by South Atlantic Conference's Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, TN. Clayton State will face Carson-Newman in the first round of the tournament at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, while the University of North Florida and Catawba College will meet in the other semifinal match at noon. The semifinal winners will meet on Sunday, Nov. 14 in the regional championship at 1:30 p.m.
Both the men's and women's regional winners will advance to the NCAA Division II National Championship quarterfinals on Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 20-21.
The 20th-ranked Laker men's team is coming off a 2-0 loss in the Peach Belt Conference semifinals to the University of South Carolina Upstate. The Lakers have a 12-3-3 record on the season and defeated Queens 2-1 in the second match of the regular season. Senior Richard Morton had the game-winner in the 64th minute.
The Lakers last played in the NCAA Division II tournament in the 2001 season, falling to Lander University 2-1 in overtime in the first round. Clayton State tied Francis Marion University in its only other appearance in the national tournament in 2000 in an epic four-overtime match. The Patriots advanced to the second round on penalty kick s 5-3.
The Clayton State women's appearance in the national tournament will be a first for the program. The Lakers are enjoying a program-best 13-5-1 record and coming off a 2-1 double overtime loss in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament Championships to North Florida. PBC Freshman of Year Olaitan Yusuf and PBC Player of the Year Nkiru Okosieme have led the Laker attack this season. Yusuf, the nation's leading scorer, currently has 33 goals on the season, tying the school and PBC record set by Okosieme in 2001.