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Greenville hosts NCAA women’s soccer tournament 

THURS. | 05-06-21 | SPORTS

     On Apr. 27, the men’s and women’s National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) soccer tournaments will kick off. For the first time in East Carolina University (ECU) history, tournament games will be hosted in Greenville at ECU’s Johnson Stadium. 

     ECU head women's soccer coach Jason Hamilton has been a part of multiple NCAA tournaments in his 10 years working in college soccer, but has not experienced one during his three and a half years with ECU. With the tournament fast approaching, ECU is prepping to make sure everything is up-to-date for the NCAA. Both the men’s and women’s tournaments will be held in North Carolina across nine host sites rather than a normal format where higher seeds host their own games. In the past, tournaments have been played out across the country at higher seeded team’s home stadiums until the semifinals 

NCAA Soccer Tournament 2021 -

Graphic by Keller Fraley

and finals which are played at a neutral site. This year, the entire tournament will be played at various neutral cites. 

     For ECU, the official tournament schedule hasn’t been finalized, however, Hamilton is confident that Greenville will be hosting first and second round games. 

     “The first set of games will be the first round and the second set of games will be potentially between teams that had a first round bye and teams that advanced,” Hamilton said. 

     Because ECU only has a women's soccer program, the NCAA decided that only women’s tournament games will be hosted in Greenville. Nine different teams will venture to Greenville, and they will play games from Apr. 27 through May 1. Six games will be played here in total with three first round games and three second round games.      In a normal year, it would require a history-making season for ECU to host a tournament game, but due to COVID-19, the NCAA made multiple changes.

     With 48 women’s teams and 32 men’s teams competing, host sites are spread around the state. The tournament is expected to have positive impacts on the host cities as it will provide numerous beneficial effects.

     “I hope that it will bring new light to the game in the community and having all the teams in town will spark interest,” Hamilton said. “We are hoping to see that increase our attendance next fall.”

     The nine teams traveling to Greenville are expected to bring in over 1,200 nights of hotel revenue according to Hamilton. The NCAA has said that the spectator guidelines will align with the suggestions of their NCAA Medical Advisory Group and the maximum capacity will be 25 percent. This will allow for 250 people to attend games at Johnson Stadium as it has a capacity of 1,000 people. The only chance of ECU fans getting to see ECU play in the tournament was if they had gained the American Athletic Confrence’s (AAC) automatic bid.

     “The AAC automatic tournament bid will be determined in the upcoming week with the winner of the conference tournament getting that bid: ECU, Memphis, Cincinnati, and the University of South Florida are the four teams in the tournament,” Hamilton said.

     ECU played in the first round of the AAC tournament Apr. 15 and lost to the University of South Florida who is ranked 15th nationally. This loss ended their season as they needed to win the conference tournament to make the NCAA tournament. Even though they will miss out playing in the NCAA tournament, the team and program should benefit from hosting.

     “To have our complex broadcast to a lot of viewers can be a great recruiting tool for us,” Hamilton said. “I also think the team is excited to see what teams we will get here and to be able to see some quality games outside of our conference.”

     The tournament’s brackets and schedules were released Monday Apr. 19 and it was confirmed that ECU would host 6 games and 9 teams will come through Greenville. The first round games will be played Apr. 28, starting with Siena College vs Arizona State University at 12:00 P.M., the University of Memphis vs Utah Valley University at 4:00 P.M. and the Ohio State University vs Stony Brook University at 8:00 P.M. The winner of each game will move on to play teams with first round byes on May 1.  Ninth seeed Duke University will play the team that advances from the first game at 12:00 P.M., The second will play the sixth seeded University of Arkansas at 4:00 P.M. and the final team that advances will play the eleven seed Santa Clara University at 8:00 P.M.

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