The University of Colorado soccer team is headed back to the NCAA Tournament after a five-year hiatus, but the Buffs will open against a familiar foe.
The NCAA announced the field of 64 on Monday, including Danny Sanchez's Buffs, which finished the regular season 12-6-2. CU will visit No. 4-seed Denver (17-1-1) on Saturday for its first-round game. No time has been set for the match.
"Obviously we're very excited -- me and my staff -- to have the opportunity to lead the Buffaloes back to the tournament," Sanchez, in his second year with the Buffs, said in a release.
To move on though, won't be easy. The Pioneers are No. 14 in the most recent national poll and beat the Buffs earlier this season. The then-No. 16 Pioneers handed the Buffs their first loss of the season -- and only loss to a non-conference opponent -- in September, a 3-0 defeat at CIBER Field in Denver. That game was moved from CU's Prentup Field after flooding ravaged Boulder County.
"I'm especially proud of the team, but really our four four-year seniors (Anne Stuller, Annie Brunner, Hayley Hughes and Lizzy Herzl), who have gone through a lot in their time at Colorado," Sanchez said. "To have the opportunity to make the tournament their senior year, is just a testament to the work and commitment they've shown since we've been brought on staff."
The Buffs and Pioneers have played 17 times with an 8-8-1 series tie. The teams have squared off in the NCAA Tournament once before. In 2006, CU earned a 2-1 win in the round of 32. That season, the Buffs had their best NCAA finish, reaching the Sweet 16 before falling to No. 1 Notre Dame.
CU's last NCAA Tournament appearance was in 2008, when the Buffs lost in the first round to South Dakota State.
This will be Sanchez's first appearance in the Division-I tournament, but he led Metro State to the Division-II Elite Eight five times and won two national titles with the Roadrunners.
There are five other Pac-12 teams that also received berths in the tournament. UCLA earned a No. 2 seed, while Stanford, Utah, Washington State and Cal also punched their tickets.