The University of Vermont men’s soccer team is set to host Villanova in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday at Virtue Field.

It will be the first time in five years that the Catamounts have hosted a tournament game. UVM last hosted an NCAA Tournament game on November 17, 2016 when they faced Rider.

Vermont took a 4-1 victory with Brian Wright registering a hat trick and adding one assist. Wright set the program record for the most points in a single season (39) that night.

UVM clinched an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by beating nationally-ranked and previously undefeated New Hampshire in the America East championship game on Sunday in Durham, New Hampshire.

Yves Borie scored the lone goal in that 1-0 Catamounts victory. Borie is third on the team with four goals and has been particularly clutch in the biggest moments. He scored the opening goal in UVM’s America East semifinal win against New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Argentinean graduate student Nacho Lerech paces the Catamounts with six goals, followed by senior midfielder Alex Nagy. Borie and Matt Black both have four goals, while Joe Morrison, Noah Egan and Zach Barrett all have three goals.

Nagy is a great passer out of the midfield, racking up a team-high 10 assists this fall. His best distributing day was on Oct. 29, where he had three assists against UMass Lowell.

The Catamounts’ defense has been one of best around, allowing more than one goal just once since the start of October.

UVM goalkeeper Nate Silveira was recently named as a first-team All-Conference selection. His goals against average of .831 was second in the conference.

The Catamounts’ tournament berth is their 11th in program history. The Catamounts are 4-9-2 in tournament history with its deepest run coming in 1989 when Vermont beat UConn and Yale, before falling to Rutgers in the regional finals. UVM has played three tournament games since 2015.

This will be the first time Vermont and Villanova meet in men’s soccer.

The Wildcats earned their spot in the tournament as an at-large bid.

Villanova made it to the Big East tournament semifinals, before falling to eventual conference champion Georgetown.

The Wildcats have had a chip on their shoulder all season, after being picked to finish 11th in the Big East in the conference’s preseason coaches poll.

Villanova opened the season fast with a 5-1 start and have posted an 11-7-1 record heading into Thursday’s game.

Playing in Burlington won’t easily faze the Wildcats, as they have done some of their best work on the road this season. Their six road wins are the most the program has had since 2007.

Junior Lyam MacKinnon, of Switzerland, leads Villanova’s offense with seven goals, but he’s been held off the board in the Wildcats’ last four games.

Freshman Balthi Saunders has four goals, while Luke Pompliano, Akinjide Awujo and Seidu Shamsudeen have multiple goals as well.

Carson Williams is Villanova’s starting goalkeeper and has been impressive with a goals against average of 1.14. He was named to the Big East All-Tournament team and was a second-team All-Conference selection, along with MacKinnon.

Villanova has been in the NCAA Tournament just once before, in 2016, where the Wildcats earned an at-large bid and fell to Akron in the tournament opener.

Kickoff for Thursday’s contest is scheduled for 6 p.m. in Burlington.

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