Soccer Set for NCAA Opener Friday
BOULDER - The University of Colorado women's soccer team will take on the University of Hawai'i on Friday at 11 a.m. in the first round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament at Prentup Field.
Colorado is making its fifth-consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament and will be playing at home for the second-straight year. The Buffs also played host to the first two rounds last year in Boulder for the first time in the 11 year history of the program.
"Once all of these teams that are invited to the NCAA Tournament get over that moment of ?wow,' and head into training, the excitement returns when you actually get things going and play," said head coach Bill Hempen. "I think you'll see two outstanding games played on Friday and an outstanding game on Sunday, with whoever may be playing."
The Buffs are 9-7-4 on the season after making their sixth-consecutive trip to the Big 12 Tournament, where they tied No. 10 Texas before falling on penalty kicks. They are led offensively by First Team All-Big 12 selection Nikki Marshall, who has nine goals and two assists on the season. The defense is anchored by First Team All-Big 12 selection Michelle Wenino, who leads CU this year in minutes played and is a key contributor towards the eight shutouts that the Buffs have produced this season.
"We're so excited that we're not only in the tournament, but get to host it at our field as well," said Wenino. "It's nice when you don't have to travel because you can just focus solely on the game ahead. It will be great to have our fans here and to know that we have such great support."
They will face a Hawai'i team that is making their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament after winning the Western Athletic Conference regular season title following its 1-0 win over Fresno State. UH is 15-4-2 overall after finishing with a 6-1 mark in league play. The 2007 squad shattered numerous school records this season, including wins (15), shutouts (12), and goals (59) in a season.
"We're probably just as much of a mystery to them as they are to us," said Hempen. "We'll do what we can to play to our strengths and it should be a real good game. I'm looking forward to the opportunity."
The Rainbow Wahine are led by sophomore Ambree Ako with 32 points off 12 goals and eight assists and junior Taryn Fukuroku who has added 12 goals and seven assists.
UH and CU have faced each other only one time, coming back in 1996 in the final game of Colorado's inaugural season. Hawai'i edged the Buffs by a score of 3-2 in Boulder.
Colorado will also host another first round game, featuring the Denver Pioneers and No. 2 seed Portland Pilots at 2 p.m.
With two teams from the state of Colorado playing at Prentup, it marks an unprecedented amount of Colorado prep products competing in the NCAA Tournament in one place. CU features 16 players from the Centennial State, while DU boasts 17 and Portland has one.
Prentup Field is located at 33rd Street and Colorado Avenue in Boulder. Tickets are $7 for adults, $3 for students from participating institutions, seniors and kids 12 and under, and $1 for kids five and under. Parking at Prentup Field is free. For more information, please call 303-49-BUFFS or visit www.cubuffs.com.