ATLANTA--The Georgia State men's soccer team earned one of 26 at-large bids awarded by the NCAA on Monday for the 2011 Division I Men's Soccer Championship. GSU travels to play No. 24 Duke (10-7-3) on Thursday night at 7 p.m. in Durham, N.C.
It's the third NCAA bid for the Panthers in school history but the first in the current 48-team format. Georgia State previously participated in NCAA play-in games in 2000 and 1997 but fell both times.
"I am so excited I can't put it into words, I am really proud of the guys," Georgia State head coach Brett Surrency said, "To be in this position is unbelievable. It's a tribute to the guys and the work they put into this program over the last couple of years. We're anxious to train tomorrow and get ready for Duke."
The Panthers are coming off their first Colonial Athletic Association Tournament appearance in school history. GSU, the sixth seed in the CAA Tournament, earned a 2-1 victory over third-seeded William & Mary last Thursday before falling to Old Dominion 5-3 in the semifinals on Friday.
The Panthers were ranked No. 40 in the RPI before the CAA Tournament while Duke was No. 22. Georgia State is one of four CAA teams to make the NCAA Tournament, joining James Madison, Old Dominion and CAA Champion Delaware. The Panthers played a total of five teams in this year's tournament field, posting a 0-5-1 including a 1-1 tie at 11th-overall seed UAB on Sept. 11.
Georgia State is 0-2 all-time against the Blue Devils with the last matchup occurring in 2004, a 4-0 loss, when Duke was ranked No. 6 in the nation. The Panthers fell 1-0 in the other matchup in 2002.
Georgia State's NCAA bid is part of a remarkable turnaround for the Panthers under Surrency in is second seeason. Two years removed from a four-win season, GSU is 13-7-2 this season after being picked to finish 12th out of 12 teams in the CAA prior to the season.
In GSU's two previous NCAA games the Panthers lost 4-3 to Rhode Island in overtime in 2000 and fell 4-2 to Howard in 1997.
Leading GSU this season are a trio of sophomore All-CAA players in defender Chris Locandro, midfielder Stephen McGill and midfielder Jamal Keene. Locandro, a First Team All-CAA defender, helped GSU to tie a school record with nine shutout victories this season and to a CAA-best 0.94 goals against average (GAA). McGill earned Second Team honors after scoring four goals and tying for the team lead with three assists this year. Keene posted three assists and a goal this year to earn Third Team laurels.
Sophomore forward Evan Scott leads the team this year with eight goals and has added three assists. Junior goalkeeper Vincent Foermer, who battled back from an injury earlier this season, is second in the CAA with a 1.15 GAA and has five shutouts.
Check www.GeorgiaStateSports.com this week for NCAA Tournament Central to get all the latest news about the Georgia State men's soccer team's trip to the NCAA Tournament. Also, follow the Panthers on Facebook (facebook.com/GSUMensSoccer) and Twitter (@GSUMensSoccer) for the latest updates on Georgia State men's soccer.