The Colorado Buffaloes soccer team isn't quite done with Prentup Field after all.
On Monday CU received a coveted reward for its dramatic turnaround season this fall with an official berth in the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four seasons. The Buffs will host Oklahoma State Saturday at noon at Prentup, with the winner slated to take on either Alabama State or top-seeded South Carolina next week in the second round.
"Two of the previous years we were worried about getting in, let alone hosting or who we'd be playing, so this was different," CU coach Danny Sanchez said. "But it's always exciting. I don't care if you're the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament or the last team in, it's always exciting to see who you're going to play and how it all unfolds. It's been an exciting couple days and we'll be ready to roll on Saturday."
It is the Buffs third NCAA Tournament selection in five seasons under Sanchez and their ninth overall. CU owns an 8-8 mark all-time in the tournament and has failed to advance just twice in eight appearances, losing in the first round in the program's first tournament appearance in 2003 and again in 2008.
It will be the fourth year CU has hosted an NCAA Tournament date at Prentup Field, with the Buffs going a combined 4-1 in five tournament games in 2006, 2007, and 2014. The Buffs were one of six Pac-12 Conference programs to reach the 64-team field, joining top overall seed Stanford, USC, UCLA, Cal and Utah. The Buffs went 2-2-1 against those squads.
Oklahoma State is a former CU rival in the Big 12 Conference and a foe the Buffs faced at least once every season from the program's inaugural 1996 campaign through 2010. The Buffs own a 9-4-3 edge in the all-time series against Oklahoma State, including a 6-0-2 mark at home.
The clubs had just one common opponent this season in Kansas. Oklahoma State settled for a 1-1 draw against the Jayhawks in league play on Oct. 9, while the Buffs suffered a 1-0 loss at Kansas in the third game of the season on Aug. 26.
"We're really hoping the community comes out on Saturday playing an unfamiliar foe, though they were familiar a few years ago in the Big 12," Sanchez said. "They play in a top conference and it will be a huge challenge for us. But them coming in to altitude, and hopefully in front of a big crowd, hopefully we can take advantage of that."