Despite bowing out of the SEC tournament in the semifinals, the South Carolina women's soccer team received a No. 3 seed in the 2014 NCAA Tournament when the field was announced Monday.
The national No. 1 seeds in the tournament are UCLA, Florida State, Texas A&M and Stanford. Second-seeded teams are Virginia, North Carolina, Penn State and Florida. Joining the Gamecocks as No. 3 seeds are Kentucky, West Virginia and Texas Tech. And the fourth-seeded teams are Pepperdine, Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Washington.
"We're thrilled," head coach Shelley Smith said. "We're so excited to be hosting again, to be a national seed. The team worked hard to get that kind of recognition."
However, the biggest news coming out of the selection isn't the Gamecocks' seeding, but the opponent that South Carolina has drawn in the first round.
The Gamecocks (13-5-3, 5-3-3 SEC) will host the arch-rival Clemson Tigers (13-3-2, 6-3-1 ACC) to begin the tournament Friday at 6 p.m. at Stone Stadium.
The two schools squared off earlier in the season in their annual rivalry match, a game that the Tigers took 1-0.
South Carolina's path to the championship won't get any easier after Clemson. In the Gamecocks' corner of the bracket also lie No. 1 seed Florida State and second-seeded North Carolina, who both tied for the best record in the ACC. The Seminoles are fresh off a conference championship after beating Virginia in the ACC tournament finals.
The Gamecocks will bring with them to the competition a number of postseason awards. Savannah McCaskill was named SEC Freshman of the Year and senior goalkeeper Sabrina D'Angelo and redshirt senior defender Taylor Leach were both first-team all-SEC selections. D'Angelo also earned SEC co-Defensive Player of the Year honors.
This season marks South Carolina's seventh NCAA tournament bid in the last eight years.