[COLLEGE WOMEN] The NCAA Division I Women's Tournament begins Thursday with regional play at UCLA. Despite their 12-7-1 record, the Bruins are a team no one
wants to face in the postseason. Here's a look at five unseeded teams that could move on the final 16 ...
UCLA. The Bruins will host BYU, UCF and Fresno State in a Thursday-Saturday regional designed to accommodate BYU, which doesn't play on Sundays.
Coming off a 12-7-1 season, the Bruins are a longshot to return to the Women's College Cup for an eighth straight year, but it's not an impossibility. UCLA has six wins against teams going to the Big Dance: Wisconsin, Notre Dame, San Diego, Santa Clara, California and Arizona State.
Sydney Leroux almost single-handedly beat ASU in Tempe on Sunday, scoring two goals and earning the free kick that led to Lauren Barnes' goal.
PENN STATE. Ali Schaefer's goal with 17 seconds remaining in overtime gave the Lions a 1-0 win over Michigan Sunday and their 13th straight conference title -- the most in Big Ten women's athletic history -- which they shared with Ohio State. That's quite an accomplishment for a team that lost five in a row to start the season 1-5-1.
Penn State finished 10-8-1 with wins in seven of its last eight games and moves on the West Virginia regional, where it opens Friday against Penn. It marks the 16th year in a row the Lions have made the NCAA Tournament.
A key to Penn State's turnaround is the play of redshirt freshman Tani Costa. The Hawaiian scored points in six of the last seven Big Ten games and now has 20 points, matching her in the team lead for points with U.S. international Christine Nairn.
UC IRVINE. Down the road from UCLA, the Anteaters will also serve as hosts, facing Arizona State after ACC champion Wake Forest, the No. 4 regional seed, meets San Diego in perhaps the most balanced regional.
The Anteaters won 14 games before falling to Long Beach State in the Big West final. Their attack is led by junior CoCo Goodson, a transfer from Texas, and Mar Rodriguez, who played for Mexico at the 2010 Under-20 Women's World Cup.
AUBURN. With wins over three NCAA Tournament teams -- Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Florida State and Florida -- Auburn is better than its 11-7-2 record would indicate. The Tigers have one of the nation's top young players in Katy Frierson, who has eight goals and 12 assists in 20 games.
Auburn will face South Florida -- which is coming off an excellent Big East Tournament run -- in the first round at the Florida State regional.
BOSTON UNIVERSITY. The Terriers don't have far to go for their first-round game, facing second-seed Boston College on Friday. BC won the first meeting, 1-0, on Sept. 4, but BU is one of the hottest teams in the country. The Terriers' 13-game shutout streak -- all wins -- is tied for the second longest in NCAA Division I women's history.
Their offense isn't too shabby, either. They've outscored their opponents 38-0 during their current run and rank 12th in the country in scoring. Graduate student Lisa Kevorkian led the America East with 14 goals and 35 points, while junior Jessica Luscinski, the 2010 America East Striker of the Year, is not far behind with 12 goals and 31 points.