SOCCER AMERICA profiles the seven teams -- Army, Belmont, Long Beach State, Morehead State, Northern Arizona, Northeastern and South Dakota State -- making their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament and hoping to spring at upset in first-round action on Friday.
The Black Knights earned their keep at the Patriot League Tournament,
outlasting No. 2 Bucknell, 5-4, on penalty kicks following a scoreless
overtime draw in the semifinals and beating top-seed Navy, 1-0, on Pia White's goal with just over five
minutes remaining in the second overtime.
Player to watch: Freshman forward Dymon Washington earned first team
All-Patriot honors after winning Rookie of the Week three times and
placing fifth in the league with 17 points.
Coach: Gene Ventriglia is in
his 21st season as the lone coach and driving force behind the West
Point women's program.
First-round opponent: at
The Bears didn't have a home field to play on this year, but that
didn't stop them. Belmont reached the NCAA Tournament by winning the
Atlantic Sun Tournament, taking their final two games on penalty kicks.
Player to watch: Against regular-season champion Mercer in the
final, Sari Lin stopped the
last four shootout attempts.
Coach: Lisa Howe is in her fourth season at Belmont after a
decade-long tenure at Jacksonville State.
First-round opponent: at Auburn.
LONG BEACH STATE (14-4-4).
The 49ers have been knocking at the door for several years, but they
finally got into the Big Dance. They have won three straight Big West
regular-season titles, but this was the first year they got a bid when
they fell in the conference tournament.
Players to watch: Hayley Bolt
and Kim Silos both earned
All-Big West honors for the third year in a row. Bolt leads the 49ers
with nine goals and four assists for 22 points. Silos has six goals and
Coach: Mauricio Ingrassia is 59-30-11 in
five years at Long Beach. It was the freshman class he brought in to
start his second year that turned the program around.
First-round opponent: San
Diego (at UCLA).
MOREHEAD STATE (9-8-3)
The Eagles knocked off regular-season Ohio Valley champion
Murray State in the semifinals on penalty kicks en route to their first
title. They started the season 1-6-0 against D1 opponents before
turning their season around with a solid month of October.
Player to watch: In her first season, Jillian Birchmeier earned Ohio
Valley Freshman of the Year and co-Offensive Player of the Year honors
with nine goals.
Coach: Erin Aubry is in her fourth season at MSU after serving
on the staff at Mississippi.
First-round opponent: at Wake Forest.
The Huskies have finished their season strong, winning their
last five games, including the CAA title game against Hofstra on Sunday
in a 1-0 victory. They were the seeded sixth in the six-team CAA
Player to watch: Freshman Veronica
Napoli, the CAA Rookie of the Year, leads the Huskies with 12
goals and 29 points.
Coach: After coaching both the
men's and women's teams for six years in that capacity, Ed Matz shifted his attention fully
to the women's team in 2005, though he retained the title of director
First-round opponent: Harvard (at Boston College)
NORTHERN ARIZONA (13-8-1).
The Lumberjacks head back to Portland, Ore., for the second time
this season. They fell to the mighty Pilots, 7-0, on their first trip,
but their defense has certainly tightened up since then. They have
allowed only eight goals in their last 13 games (10-1-2 record).
Player to watch: Cee Cee Odorfer, whose goal gave NAU a 2-1 win
over host Weber State in the Big Sky final, was named the conference's
co-Offensive Player of the Year.
Coach: Eighth-year coach Andre
Luciano earned Big Sky Coach of the Year honors.
First-round opponent: at Portland.
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE (14-4-1).
This was the first year the Jackrabbits were eligible to play in
the NCAA Division I Tournament after transitioning from Division II.
They began D1 play in 2004. They shared the Summit League
regular-season title with Oakland and IUPUI and won the league
tournament over Oakland in the final (1-0).
Player to watch: Goalie Nicole Lograsso is the Jacks'
all-time leader in wins (29) and shutouts (19). She allowed only two
goals in Summit League play.
Coach: Lang Wedemeyer is the
only coach SDSU has ever had, starting the program in 2000.
First-round opponent: Colorado