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MORNING BRIEFING: Newbies enjoy spotlight
by Paul Kennedy, November 14th, 2008 8:01AM

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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.

ARMY (12-5-3)
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 Virginia.

BELMONT (13-6-3).
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 six assists.

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.

NORTHEASTERN (13-8-1).
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 postseason competition.

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 of soccer.

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 (at Minnesota).


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