Soccer To Host NCAA First and Second Rounds
BOULDER - The University of Colorado women's soccer team earned its fifth-straight appearance in the 2007 NCAA Soccer Tournament on Monday night. The Buffaloes were also selected as one of 16 hosts for first and second round games that will be played this Friday and Sunday, November 16 and 18.
"I am ecstatic that we get to play on," said head coach Bill Hempen. "And then to get to play on at home is something else. I don't know if it's because of how our teams in the past have done, or the way that we hosted last year, but I'm just ecstatic that we get to play on and overwhelmed that we get to play at home."
Colorado will welcome local rival Denver, as well as Hawaii and Portland to Prentup Field in Boulder.
Tournament play will get underway with the first round matches on Friday. The University of Denver and the University of Portland will play one game while the Buffaloes, 9-7-4 this season, will host the University of Hawai'i in their first round matchup. The game times will be announced on Tuesday as Portland, the No. 2 seed in the bracket, has their choice of playing in the first or second match of the day.
The Buffaloes, making their fifth-ever NCAA Tournament appearance, will look to repeat their tournament run last year as they defeated Colorado College and Denver in Boulder to advance to the Sweet 16 before falling to No. 1 seed Notre Dame in South Bend. Colorado is 3-4-1 all time in NCAA Tournament play.
Colorado is 0-1 all-time against Hawai'i, with their single matchup coming back in CU's first season in 1996, when Hawai'i came to Boulder and beat the Buffs 3-2 at Pleasant View Soccer Complex. Hawaii (15-4-2) is making their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament in school history, earning an automatic bid to the field of 64 after a 1-0 win over Fresno State in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament championship on Sunday.
On the other side of the Boulder draw, the West Coast Conference Champion Portland Pilots will look to improve their eight game winning streak against the Sunbelt Conference Champion Denver Pioneers.
Denver (13-4-4) capped off an impressive conference run on Sunday, defeating North Texas 2-0, to capture their fifth conference championship in seven years. The Pioneers enter their fifth NCAA Tournament and second-straight appearance. Last year, the Pioneers defeated Kentucky in the first round, the first tournament win in DU's history.
Portland, ranked No. 2 in the latest Soccer Buzz Magazine national poll, earned a No. 2 seed in the Tournament. The Pilots have a top-five ranking in every national poll and have won eight straight games entering the tournament. Portland is making its 15th NCAA appearance in the last 16 years.
Friday will mark the second-straight year that Colorado has hosted NCAA Soccer Tournament games, a luxury the Buffs won't take for granted out of experience from past seasons.
"It will give us good momentum," said junior defender Michelle Wenino. "Tonight we were pretty unsure if we were going to make it in, and now, being a host, that will give us momentum. I think that we all believe that we are capable of beating top teams and we we're definitely excited."
"Speaking from emotional standpoint, this is huge," said sophomore forward Nikki Marshall. "Getting into the tournament and hosting is great for us because traveling can be tough. We are definitely excited and ready to play."
The Buffaloes posted a 2-5-2 record against the eight teams they faced this season that qualified for the NCAA Tournament, which includes Texas, Texas A&M, Missouri and Oklahoma State of the Big 12, as well as Brigham Young, Denver, Stanford, and Virginia. Missouri and Texas A&M will also host tournament games.
Prentup Field is located at 33rd Street and Colorado Avenue in Boulder. For more information, directions, and maps to Prentup Field, visit www.cubuffs.com. Game times and ticket information will be announced Tuesday, Nov. 13.