USAFA — Air Force's magical soccer run will continue.
After winning their first Western Athletic Conference tournament last week, the Falcons has been selected to play the sixth-seeded Seton Hall Pirates in the second round of the 2021 NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament.
Over the weekend, Seton Hall won its first BIG EAST Tournament championship since November 1991 and the fifth in program history. Seton Hall's record on the season is now 9-1-3, handing Georgetown its first loss of the season in the BIG EAST tournament finals.
The selection marks the program's 12th appearance in the national tournament and third in the last four seasons.
But if you asked the Falcons a month ago if they thought they could win the WAC tournament, they would say no.
"Six games ago we were in a really bad place as a team," explained Air Force junior goalkeeper, Kainoa Likewise, who is also a Discovery Canyon alum. "Then things kind of changed and it started with one game. We kind of got a belief and once that belief started rolling, it just kind of pilled on from there. And we just got one win and another and another. And we just did not think too far ahead and took it one game at a time."
Air Force became the Western Athletic Conference's first-ever six-seed to win a tournament title, blanking top-seeded Grand Canyon on Saturday, 3-0. The Falcons have scored six-straight unanswered goals since the first round of the tournament.
"Its been crazy," added Air Force junior midfielder Giuliano Daniel. "Euphoria. It's a lot of work. We've been training since the summer, no fall season or spring season. It's taking a lot of determination like coach who said after we got selected, it takes a lot of grit and I think it's all really coming together right now and were able to reap the benefits."
The last time the Falcons made the NCAA tournament was in 2018 when they made it to the round of 16, and loss to the No. 1 seed Indiana.
"Iit really builds our confidence heading into NCAA's and we're riding a hot win streak and hope to keep it going," said Daniel
"We have a belief in ourselves that we didn't have before as a team," added Likewise. "We're really close knit group of guys. A lot of people of underestimated us and so we just have a belief and see how far we can go and stay on this magical run."
Four first-round games will be played Thursday, April 29, while all second-round action will take place Sunday, May 2. The third round will be played May 6, while the quarterfinals will be played May 10. The match between Air Force and Seton Hall is slated for 8 p.m. ET, Sunday, May 2, at the Sportsplex in Matthews, North Carolina.