QUINCY -- The 24-hour wait the Quincy University women's soccer players endured to find out their NCAA Tournament fate ended shortly after 5 p.m. Monday.
It was worth every anxious minute that passed.
Gathered together on campus to watch the tournament selection show, the Hawks erupted when the bracket was revealed and showed Ohio Valley as the No. 3 seed in the Midwest Region. It meant Quincy had secured the No. 2 seed and the opportunity to play its second-round game at home.
"Amazing," QU senior forward Mackenzie Rief said. "I was ecstatic. Obviously, Sunday was a bust. Everyone was really disappointed. So this was the wake-up call or whatever you want to call it to get our fire back and get after it."
Sunday's 3-0 loss to McKendree in the Great Lakes Valley Conference championship, coupled with the fact Ohio Valley won the Great Midwest Athletic Conference title, created the tension the Hawks experienced Monday.
"All day," Rief said. "I was freaking out. Now, it's just a relief."
The Hawks (16-3-1) will face either Ohio Valley (16-0-3) or sixth-seeded Bellarmine (7-3-7) at noon Saturday at Legends Stadium. The Fighting Scots and the Knights square off in a first-round matchup at noon Thursday at Legends Stadium.
"Not very often does a community get to host an NCAA Tournament level game," QU coach Dave Musso said. "We have the opportunity, and our players have earned it."
Although Musso always believed that, he couldn't rest easy with the uncertainty over the Hawks' seed.
"I was extremely nervous," Musso said. "When you lose to McKendree, you just don't know. I really trust the process and the way we schedule games. Our strength of schedule had to separate us from whoever was going to be No. 3. And we got the results as well."
Quincy has played four of the other five teams in the bracket -- fourth-seeded McKendree and fifth-seeded Ohio Dominican travel to top-seeded Grand Valley State -- with victories against three of them.
"This shows all of our hard work has really paid off," senior midfielder Katie Heiligenstein said. "It's amazing. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience to play in the NCAA Tournament at home, I'm excited to play one last game at our field."
This is the 12th NCAA Tournament appearance in program history and the 10th in Musso's 12-year coaching tenure. It is the third time Quincy has played host to the Midwest Regional opening rounds, losing 2-1 to Wisconsin-Parkside at Flinn Stadium in 2012 and beating Parkside 1-0 at Legends Stadium in 2013.
"This team has traveled a lot this year," said Musso, referencing the fact all three non-conference games were on the road. "It's mentally and physically draining doing all of that. So having our own sound system, our own music, our routines is going to be great."
At Quincy, Ill.
No. 3 Ohio Valley vs. No. 6 Bellarmine, noon
No. 2 Quincy vs. Ohio Valley-Bellarmine winner, noon
At Allendale, Mich.
No. 4 McKendree vs. No. 5 Ohio Dominican, 1 p.m.
No. 1 Grand Valley State vs. McKendree-Ohio Dominican winner, noon