Cal State Stanislaus soccer nabs top seed, right to host NCAA Tournament

bclark@modbee.comNovember 11, 2013 

  • NCAA Div. II West Regional Thursday

    Cal Baptist vs. San Bernardino, 7 p.m.

    Saturday

    Cal Baptist/San Bernardino winner vs. Cal State Stanislaus, 1 p.m.

A first-round bye in the NCAA Tournament. Home-field advantage. A familiar foe.

Not a bad off day for the Cal State Stanislaus women’s soccer team.

The Warriors reaped the rewards of an unbeaten regular season and conference title on Monday when the pairings were announced for the NCAA Division II tournament.

The first two rounds will be played in Turlock, where on Thursday night San Bernardino State and Cal Baptist will play for the right to face Stanislaus in the second round on Saturday at 1 p.m.

The Warriors already have beaten both teams this season.

“It’s certainly great to be No. 1,” coach Gabe Bolton said a few hours after the Warriors were, as expected, given the No. 1 seed in the West Region. “We had two very challenging games this weekend. So definitely to get that rest and get a little recovery in ... certainly not playing on Thursday is an advantage for us no question about it.”

The Warriors (18-0-2) beat Cal Baptist (12-5) in early September 2-0 and upended San Bernardino 5-1 six days later. San Bernardino (11-6-3) lost to Sonoma State 2-1 on Friday at Turlock in the California Collegiate Athletic Association semifinal.

Bolton said he’d give his players their usual day off today and hold practices Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Both physically and mentally, the coach said his team is right where it should be.

If there’s any pressure about being a No. 1 seed, it’s really nothing compared to what the the Warriors have faced in the last month.

“When you’re running through the season unbeaten, you start facing pressure every week,” he said. “Everyone is giving you (their) best shot. They want to be that team that takes you down.”

He’s been especially proud of his team’s approach to the here and now.

“This team has done a good job of playing one game at a time and playing in the moment, especially since the season has gone on,” he said.

Bolton was referring to the mindset his players had last year, when he felt some might have looked past an opponent or too far into the future.

That team came off a CCAA title and NCAA Tournament berth in 2011 to an eventual No. 6 national ranking in 2012. However, their season came crashing down after a loss in the regular-season finale, a defeat in the CCAA semis and finally being passed over for an NCAA bid.

Should the Warriors win on Saturday afternoon, there’s a possibility the program could host the third round and quarterfinals Nov. 24-26.

On the other side of the West Region bracket, Sonoma State (13-4-3), which Stanislaus beat 2-0 on Sunday in the CCAA championship game, faces Seattle Pacific (14-5-1). The winner of the game will take on Western Washington (17-1-1).

Bee senior editor for Digital and Sports Brian Clark can be reached at bclark@modbee.com or (209) 578-2362. Follow him on Twitter @BrianClarkMod

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