For the first time since 2010, the Elon University men’s soccer team will not be playing in the NCAA Tournament.
The field of 48 teams was released Monday, and the Phoenix did not receive an at-large bid.
Elon made the last three NCAA Tournaments by virtue of winning the Southern Conference Tournament. Last season, the Phoenix advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a victory in penalty kicks against Clemson University at Rudd Field.
The decision abruptly ends the careers of Elon’s winningest senior class, which saw 46 victories during the past four years.
Among the seniors whose careers are now over is goalkeeper Nathan Dean, who holds the Elon record for career shutouts. He posted nine clean sheets this season, one shy of a program record.
Also gone is forward Jason Waterman, a former walk-on who garnered a sense of fame after scoring the winning goal against Clemson in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
Elon lost 2-0 to Northeastern University Nov. 8 in the quarterfinals of the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament, eliminating the Phoenix from consideration for an automatic bid. For that, Elon would have needed to win the CAA Tournament.
Instead, sixth-seeded James Madison University, which was picked to finish last in the CAA preseason poll, went on to win the CAA Tournament and lock up the automatic bid. The Dukes topped the University of Delaware 1-0 on Sunday. For its first-round NCAA Tournament match, James Madison will play at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Thursday.
The University of North Carolina at Wilmington, a CAA foe of Elon’s, received an at-large bid and will host Bucknell University on Thursday. The Phoenix handed the Seahawks one of their four losses Oct. 15.
It’s the fifth consecutive year that the CAA has sent multiple teams to the NCAA Tournament.
The Phoenix went 9-6-4 on the season and went 4-2-1 against the top 50 of the Ratings Percentage Index. Elon was slated at No. 42 in the latest rankings of the RPI.
Elon will return eight starters next season, including forward Miguel Salazar, midfielder Caue Da Silva, defender Nathan Diehl, midfielder James Brace and defender Samuel McBride.