SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The Missouri State Men’s Soccer team knew they were in the NCAA Tournament, its no different than what they have become accustom to over the past few season.
The Bears wanted to see a number next to their name as a national seed and receive a first round bye.
Instead, Missouri State learned on Monday that it wouldn’t be seeded, but will still host a first round game.
“They want to keep playing. They are excited that they have another game, I mean they would go to Mars to play the next game, but they are in the tournament and playing and they are pumped,” Missouri State head coach Jon Leamy said.
The Bears will play Creighton on Thursday at 6 pm at Betty and Bobby Allison South Stadium to open the NCAA Tournament.
“Yeah it’s disappointing, but we knew there was a possibility that we wouldn’t get it,” Bears senior forward Josh Dolling said. “We got a home game so we’ll take that. We played Creighton recently, in the Spring, and got a win over them. We are excited to get going again on this tournament run.”
It’s the second time the Bears have hosted a first round game in the past three years.
It comes off winning their second straight Valley Tournament championship on Sunday.
“They celebrated yesterday, but boy they had it in perspective because they know they have more to do and they want to do more,” Leamy said. “They advanced last year to get to North Carolina, the year before they had Denver at home and won that one. So, this team wants to keep going. All we know is we have Creighton on Thursday night and we have to make that work.”
Plenty of anxious soccer players waited more than 16 minutes before Missouri State finally popped up on the projector.
“The waiting is kind of the hardest part because you just want to see where you are at and kind of start planning from there,” Bears senior keeper Michael Creek said. “Especially on the right side of the bracket, you know you see the whole left side and you’re just like, ‘when is our name going to be called? When is our name going to be called?’. It’s kind of like the day before Christmas and you are waiting to see what you get.”
Missouri State at 17-1 has the best record in the country and roll into the tournament on a 15 game win streak, which is the longest active streak.
If the Bears beat Creighton on Thursday, they will travel to Tulsa for a second round game. Tulsa is the only team to beat Missouri State this season.