In past NCAA tournaments, the Furman women’s soccer team often drew a trip to Clemson or South Carolina in the opening round as teams were typically sent to regions close to home. In this unique spring season, however, every match of the men’s and women’s soccer tournament will be played in North Carolina — much like every game of the NCAA basketball tournament was held in Indiana.
With all 48 teams playing in the same state, that meant the Paladins could see “Furman” matched up with a different opponent than usual during Monday’s selection show. While that did happen, there’s still a very familiar face to the opponent involved.
The Paladins (8-0-2) will take on Rice in round one of the tournament on April 28 in Cary, North Carolina. The game will be a matchup of the only two head coaches in the 27-year history of the Paladins’ program.
Current Owls head coach Brian Lee started the Furman women’s program with the assistance of current Paladins head coach Andrew Burr. They were teammates on the Furman men’s team in the early ’90s.
“We’re excited to play in a unique environment … and getting to play against someone I’ve known for 30-plus years is pretty cool,” said Burr, Furman’s head coach since December 2004. “I knew we were probably going to play somebody different, but I didn’t know it was going to be Rice against my best friend.
“I was a couple of years older than him playing-wise, so I got to yell at him a little bit when I was a player….