WAYNE — Wayne State is heading to the NCAA Division II playoffs for the first time since 2008 under first-year head coach Logan Masters.
The Wildcats will travel to Minnesota State-Mankato for Saturday’s opening-round game as the No. 6 seed in Super Region 4.
At 9-2, it has been a tenuous drive to the second playoff appearance in school history.
"We've been in the playoffs since we got beat by Augustana a month ago," Masters said. "It has been win or stay home since. We have really persevered and come through when we needed to."
Minnesota State-Mankato is the No. 3 seed in the region and a team the Wildcats played back on Oct. 8 at Bob Cunningham Field in Wayne.
The Wildcats won in a shootout — 41-33 in a homecoming matchup — and look to improve on that outing.
"Sometimes, playing a team twice in a season is an advantage to the team that lost, believe it or not," Masters said. "I believe it gives us confidence in knowing what we need to do to win. Familiarity with your opponent isn't a bad thing."
Wayne State has had a season for the ages in compiling its 9-2 record, with a lot of "first time ever" and "first time in school history" accolades.
"We are different from any other team here," Masters said. "I like where we're at, and we have come a long ways this year. If we take care of us, we should be OK."
The Wildcats come into the game on a four-game winning streak after the 31-27 loss to Augustana on Oct. 15 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Since then, they have beaten Southwest Minnesota State (20-14), Upper Iowa (56-14), the University of Sioux Falls (31-24) and Minnesota State-Moorhead (10-7) to remain alive for the playoff bid.
"The cupboard was far from empty when I took over the program last winter," Masters said. "But these guys have been through a lot of change and came together to compete at a higher level than I think they even believed they could.
“We are good enough, we just need to worry about us and what we do — I honestly believe that. I'm very proud of this group of young men."
Kickoff is set for noon in Mankato, Minnesota.