What you need to know:

*GSU takes on Charlotte in the Opening Round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday
*The Panthers will make their second NCAA Tournament appearance under head coach Brett Surrency
*Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Thursday at TransAmerica Field

ATLANTA – After earning its first Sun Belt regular season and conference tournament championship in program history, Georgia State will head to Charlotte, N.C., to take on the Charlotte 49ers in the First Round of the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Tournament Thursday night.

The Panthers (11-6-2) will make their second NCAA Tournament appearance under head coach and Sun Belt Coach of the Year Brett Surrency, as he first led the team to the tournament as an at-large bid in 2011. Making its fourth overall appearance in school history, GSU will aim to earn its first-ever victory in the NCAA Tournament in Thursday’s matchup against the 49ers.

“It’s really exciting, mostly for our group of seniors who have been here for four years,” Surrency said of the team’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2011. “We’ve got a really close group this year and that’s one of the most important things. The conference championship was great and exciting, but to see how much the guys put into it throughout the year and let those emotions loose and be a champion was the best part about it.”

Georgia State punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament after defeating rival Georgia Southern 4-2 in the SBC Tournament Championship, getting three goals from senior midfielder and tournament Most Outstanding Player Hannes Burmeister. After entering the match without a goal on the 2018 season, Burmeister scored a hat trick and jumped to ninth place on the GSU all-time career goals list with 26.

Charlotte (14-4-1) received an at-large bid after falling 1-0 in the Conference USA Tournament Championship to No. 3 Kentucky. The 49ers will make their 13th overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament, having earned a spot in the tournament in seven of the last eight seasons. Charlotte has been dominant on both sides of the pitch this year, owning a .509 goals against average – ranking fifth in the nation – and has outscored opponents 36-10.

Thursday’s contest will be the fifth meeting between the two programs, with Georgia State holding a 3-1 lead in the all-time series. In the last outing, Charlotte earned a 4-3 overtime victory over at home over the Panthers in 2017.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at TransAmerica Field. Fans can buy tickets for Thursday’s match here. Tickets are $8 for adults, $3 for youth and $3 for groups of 10 or more people. All First-Round matches of the 2018 NCAA Tournament will be live streamed for free by the host schools. Live stats will also be available.

Follow along with Georgia State on Twitter (@GSUMensSoccer) for the latest news and updates.