Georgia State men’s soccer team won its first-ever Sun Belt regular season and conference tournament title on Sunday and advanced to the 2018 Division I Men’s College Cup.
The Panthers’ first-round NCAA Tournament match is tonight at Charlotte.
Georgia State claimed the title after defeating Georgia Southern 4-2 in the deciding match. The Panthers made the conference championship the three previous seasons, falling short in all three, before finally claiming the title.
“At the end of the game, we settled down from cheering and celebrating,” Georgia State coach Brett Surrency said. “Just to be able to give a hug to Liam Fitzsimmons, Max Hemmings, Lukas Joyner, Hannes Burmeister just the guys that have been through all four. ... It was almost just a massive weight lifted off of our shoulders. I wanted it really bad for them mostly.”
Burmeister, a senior midfielder, was named the Sun Belt Championship Most Outstanding Player after he scored three goals in the title game. Surrency was named the Sun Belt Coach of the Year after the conference title and an 11-6-2 overall record.
“That’s just a by-product of the guys winning the championship,” Surrency said. “I’m lucky to coach a lot of really good players and they make you look better than you are.”
Georgia State plays at Charlotte at 7 p.m. The 14th-ranked Charlotte team has a 14-4-1 record this season. However the 49ers fell short for the first time this season at home on Sunday in the Conference USA Championship game against No. 3 Kentucky.
“They’re really just a hard working, blue collar, physical team,” Surrency said. “They’re very organized and disciplined in what they do. They’re going to compete from the opening whistle to the end.”
The winner of the first-round game will advance to face Virginia Tech, the No. 12 overall seed, on Sunday at 3 p.m.