After a three-year wait to gain full eligibility, Fresno Pacific received its first NCAA Division II playoff berth Monday, making the 38-team field for men’s soccer.
The Sunbirds (14-2-2) were seeded sixth for Super Regional 3 in Seattle and will face No. 3 Cal State Dominguez Hills at 3 p.m. Thursday.
The Toros (14-2-3) are two-time national champions, most recently in 2008, but this is their first trip to the postseason since 2009. Fresno Pacific beat Dominguez Hills, which features former Bee All-Star Joey Chica (El Diamante High), last season, 4-3.
“The similar styles we have lends itself to an exciting match,” Sunbirds coach Jaime Ramirez said. “I like our chances.”
The winner advances to face second-seeded and regional host Seattle Pacific (14-1-3) at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Fresno Pacific, champions of the Pacific West Conference for the second time in three years, charges into the postseason winner of seven straight and armed with the No. 8 scoring offense in the nation at 3.17 goals per game.
The Sunbirds’ offense is led by Renato Bustamante (nine goals, 13 assists), Jorge Chedraui (13 goals, two assists), Alvaro Nogales (eight goals, eight assists), Joey Belzil (10 goals), Dylan Rusconi (three goals, five assists), Benjamin Cowdrill (three goals, five assists) and Anthony Velarde (one goal, seven assists).
“I like our groove right now on offense,” said Ramirez, whose team has scored 19 goals in its past three games. “We’re creating opportunity after opportunity. And we have several players scoring goals for us. It’s not just one or two guys, we have four or five scoring goals when we need them.”
The NCAA Division II playoffs continue with the third round Nov. 19-20, the quarterfinals Nov. 21-22, and then semifinals Dec. 3 and the final Dec. 5 in Pensacola, Fla.
Fresno Pacific played in the National Christian Colleges Athletic Association playoffs in two of the past three seasons after the university left the NAIA following the 2011-12 school year. That started what turned into a three-year process to become eligible for NCAA Division II postseason action.
The Sunbirds lost in the NCCAA final in 2012 and in the semifinals in 2013, but did not reach the postseason last year.