MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — After one of the best seasons in program history, WVU men’s soccer is heading to the NCAA Tournament for the 16th time.
The Mountaineers learned Monday afternoon that they are the No. 5-seed in this year’s tournament. As one of the 16 national seeds in the field of 48, they’ve also earned a first-round bye and will face either Louisville or Dayton in the round of 32.
West Virginia is also guaranteed to host games through the round of 16.
Tournament games are played at campus sites, hosted by the higher seed, through the Elite Eight. The College Cup will be contested at Lynn Family Stadium in Louisville, Ky.
Head coach Dan Stratford has guided WVU to two NCAA at-large bids during his four-year stint as the leader of the men’s soccer team at his alma mater. Previously, the Mountaineers reached the Elite Eight in 2021, marking their best NCAA Tournament performance in 40 years.
As a player at WVU, Stratford reached three consecutive NCAA Tournaments from 2005-07. Associate head coach Andy Wright also played on those teams, while assistant coach Nick Noble was the goalkeeper on the 2005 and 2006 NCAA Tournament squads.
This year’s WVU side has an opportunity to continue building on an already historic campaign. The Mountaineers rose to No. 2 in the national rankings twice this season, marking the program’s highest rankings in the United Soccer Coaches poll. They also earned a pair of top-five wins in the regular season over No. 1 Marshall and then-No. 3 Portland.
Additionally, the team’s 14 wins are the most by a WVU outfit since 2018 and second-most in program history. As players, Stratford, Wright and Noble led the Mountaineers to a program-best 15 victories during the 2006 season.
The home-field advantage afforded by their national seed boosts their chances of making a run in the national tournament. In four seasons under Stratford, the Mountaineers are 21-2-9 at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium. They went undefeated (6-0-3) in nine regular season home games this fall, and have either won or tied in 14 consecutive home matches dating back to last October.
WVU fell to Marshall Sunday in the Sun Belt Tournament championship game. Both Stratford and Thundering Herd coach Chris Grassie have voiced their desire for the two Mountain State soccer powers to meet in the NCAA Tournament.