Clayton State soccer teams earn bids to national tournaments

From Staff Reports

Both Clayton State University men's and women's soccer teams learned late Monday afternoon their magical runs in 2005 will continue.

For the second straight year, both Clayton State soccer teams received bids to the NCAA Division II National Soccer Championships released by each sport's regional committee. The men's team, as the top seed from the Southeast Region, will host first and second round matches later this week, while the women's team, as the second seed will travel to play in the Regional hosted by Tusculum College in Greeneville, TN.

Along with the Clayton State men, the Southeast Region will be comprised of two familiar foes in Peach Belt Conference opponents UNC Pembroke and Lander. Clayton State will receive a bye in the first round of the Regional, taking on the winner of UNCP and Lander, who will open the tournament on Friday at 7 p.m. Clayton State will play the winner of that match on Sunday at 7 p.m. at Laker Field.

On the women's side, Clayton State will open the tournament on Friday at 7:30 p.m. against third-seeded Carson-Newman. Host and top seed Tusculum will face fourth-seeded Catwaba in the other semifinal match on Friday. The two winners of Friday's matches will advance to Regional final on Sunday at Tusculum.

The Clayton State women faced Carson-Newman earlier this year, defeating the Eagles 3-1 behind a trio of goals from Peach Belt Player of the Year Olaitan Yusuf. The Laker women also played C-N in last year's NCAA Tournament, falling to the Eagles 3-2 in the first round. Carson-Newman will enter the match with a 14-4 record on the season.

The ninth-ranked Clayton State men's team is coming off a 2-1 victory Sunday over USC Upstate to win the 2005 Peach Belt Conference Tournament Championship. The Lakers also won the 2005 Peach Belt Conference regular season title and currently have a 13-3-4 record on the season.

Lander will enter Friday's first round match with an 11-3-4 record, while UNC Pembroke sits at 12-3-4 on the year. Lander and UNC Pembroke tied for second along with Upstate in the 2005 PBC standings. Lander last played in the tournament in 2001, defeating Clayton State in double overtime 2-1 before falling to Tampa in the second round. Pembroke advanced to last year's NCAA Final Four before falling to SIU Edwardsville.

The tournament appearance for the Clayton State men's team will be its fourth in the last six years. Clayton State advanced to the NCAA "Sweet Sixteen" last year advancing over Queens before falling in the Regional final to UNC Pembroke.

Clayton State's women's team is coming off a 2-1 overtime victory on Saturday over Columbus State University, capturing the 2005 Peach Belt Conference Tournament Championship. The Lakers' 15-2-2 mark on the season is a school best and the team's tournament championship comes on the heels of the program, sharing the 2005 PBC regular season championship with Columbus.