BURLINGTON – The players on the Vermont men’s soccer team are about to play in one of the biggest games of their life.

“It’s the elite-eight, not many people say they get to play in the elite-eight,” said forward, Max Murray.

“If we don’t concede we don’t lose, so that’s the plan and that’s what we’re looking to do,” said Nate Silveira, two-time America East goalkeeper of the year.

As the Catamounts hit the road on Thursday for an NCAA tournament quarterfinal game against Syracuse, they know what they’re up against.

“They’re prepared, they’re ready,” said CJ Carter, the Assistant Director of Catamount television, on the Vermont men. “This is the best football we’ve played all year, bring on ‘Cuse.”

They’ll take on the orange with a support system that includes University of Vermont students and fellow athletic teams.

“No matter what happens here, we’re proud of everybody to get this far,” said Todd Woodcroft, head coach for Vermont men’s hockey. “Now I think that the team is gonna have a chance to show everybody in Vermont how good soccer is in this great state. Our whole team is here cheering them on and I know everybody in the state of Vermont is cheering too. So good luck to the boys and the team and Rob and the staff. We’re behind you all the way.”

Vermont field hockey head coach Kate Pfeifer echoed this sentiment. “[Just] hoping that they can bring what they’ve been bringing all season long in terms of their energy and just their desire to compete and win,” she said. “Just really grateful that we have this level of success that we can celebrate.”

UVM Director of Athletics Jeff Shulman is proud of the work the men’s soccer team has done on the turf this year. “This group has been playing at a super high level all year,” he said. “They’ve had a few ups and downs…but we’re super proud of them and we think they’re going to do great.”

One of the tougher moments this team experienced was midway through the season when first-year forward Randy Montie was missing prior to a game. Montie was found safe shortly after, but never rejoined the team.

Before getting on the bus, head coach Rob Dow issued a positive update. “He’s back at home in Austria with his family, safe,” said Dow. “He’s been in touch with our guys wishing us the best.”

So now the Catamounts are focused and ready for Saturday, but also following three incredible tournament victories, they’re exuding confidence.

“Up the cats, let’s go!” said midfielder, Nolan Jimmo.

“We’re going to win, that’s the only thing,” said midfielder, Yves Borie.

Even head coach Dow isn’t shy in sharing his prediction. “We’ll see you back here ready to go to North Carolina,” said said.

Cary, North Carolina is where the semifinal and championship matches will take place the weekend Friday, December 9 and Monday, December 12, respectively.

Kickoff is at 2 p.m. for this Saturday’s quarterfinal match against Syracuse.