For the first time in 16 years, there will be a fall NCAA tournament game played on Georgetown’s campus.

The men’s soccer team (11-6-1) learned late Monday afternoon that it had earned an at-large bid in the 2010 NCAA tournament and will play host to the University of North Carolina-Greensboro at North Kehoe Field in a first-round matchup this Thursday at 1 p.m. The last time a Georgetown fall athletic program played a home game in an NCAA tournament was Nov. 19, 1994, when the men’s soccer team lost 4-3 in overtime to the Maryland Terrapins at MultiSport Facility in the opening round.

“Playing at home is massive,” Head Coach Brian Wiese said. “I think the guys have earned it.”

UNC-Greensboro (12-5-4) won the Southern Conference and earned an automatic bid to the Big Dance. The Spartans have not lost since Oct. 2, when they fell to Elon, 1-0, in double overtime.

“I expect us to be playing deep into the tournament,” Wiese said despite the Spartans’ 11-game unbeaten streak. “I think this team is capable of it. . We play a schedule in-conference and out of conference that prepares us for this setting.”

Georgetown boasts three wins, all at home, over nationally ranked opponents from the regular season. The Hoyas defeated No. 24 Michigan State 4-0 on Sept. 5, No. 21 West Virginia 1-0 on Oct. 2 and No. 6 Connecticut 1-0 on Oct. 28. From Sept. 29 to Oct. 28, the Blue and Gray won nine consecutive games.

But after a meaningless 3-0 loss at Notre Dame in its regular season finale and a 2-1 loss at home to Providence 10 days ago in the Big East tournament quarterfinals, Georgetown is on a losing streak and removed from the two-games-a-week playing rhythm they rode to that midseason win streak.

“Things were very slow last week,” Wiese said. “Now things are very fast. It’s as if [we’ve been] shot out of a catapult, so we’ll have to handle that well.”

The Hoyas will turn to their award-winning coaching staff for guidance over the next two days as Wiese and his assistants scour the NCAA coaching sphere for video tapes and scouting reports that will tell them what they need to know about UNC Greensboro.

On Thursday, the Big East handed out its end-of-year awards and named Georgetown the Big East co-coaching staff of the year along with undefeated conference tournament champion Louisville’s staff.

“It’s obviously a great honor,” Wiese said. “That only comes from winning games, and that comes from the guys playing well. It always boils down to the team being successful. . And it’s an honor to be spoken in the same breath as [Louisville].”

In addition to the coaches’ award, sophomore midfielder Ian Christianson was named Big East midfielder of the year and a member of the all-conference first team. The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native finished the season with 15 points on four goals and seven assists, but most importantly, he provided intangible leadership and reliability in the Blue and Gray midfield all season.

“I’m really happy that the other coaches in the league recognize the value he has for us,” Wiese said of Christianson, whose knee injury last year coincided with the team’s downward spiral after a promising September start. “He’s a huge part of what we do.”

Freshmen midfielders Steve Neumann and Joey Dillon also received conference awards. To the surprise of many, Neumann did not win Big East rookie of the year despite his league-leading 28 points on 10 goals and eight assists, but he was named to the all-conference second team and the Big East all-rookie team. Louisville freshman midfielder Dylan Mares took home the award for the Big East’s top newcomer.

“I think he could have been rookie of the year,” Wiese said of Neumann. “Statistically, it’s a phenomenal season . but his time will come.”

Dillon was also named to the Big East all-rookie team.

“Even more so than Ian, [Dillon] does a lot of things that get him absolutely no glory,” Wiese said. “He has been arguably our most consistent player. . If he wasn’t on the field, we’d have a hard time replacing what he does for us.”

But the time for the Hoyas to enjoy their awards has quickly passed, and it’s all business from here on out. The Spartans represent a historic challenge for Georgetown, which is 0-3 all-time against UNC-Greensboro. The Blue and Gray may also have to deal with a modest crowd at North Kehoe Field on Thursday because of the midweek afternoon nature of the game.

“I know [Georgetown] is an academic establishment, but I wouldn’t mind people playing hooky that day,” Wiese said.

Should the Hoyas prevail in the opening round, they will travel to play No. 4 North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., on Sunday.

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