1. Two women's seeds are up for grabs


By Ridge Mahoney

In less than two weeks, the NCAA selection committee will draw up the field for the 2006 Division I women's soccer tournament.

About all that can be determined at this point is that No. 1 Notre Dame (17-0-1) and No. 2 North Carolina (17-1-0) will receive two of the top four seeds, barring a complete collapse this week as the regular season ends or in their conference tournaments the following week.

The only blemish on Notre Dame's record is a 0-0 tie with Big East rival Connecticut 13 days ago. UNC lost its opener to Texas A&M, 1-0, and since then has reeled off 17 straight wins and is 9-0-0 in the ACC heading into Friday's finale against No. 16 Wake Forest (13-4-0).

The Aggies (ranked No. 5 with a 13-3-1 mark) are one of the teams vying for a seed, but losses to No. 4 Santa Clara (13-3-1) and No. 3 UCLA (14-2-0) early in the season may come back to haunt them. Still, they are probably the team given the best chance to win the national title among those that might not be seeded among the top four.

Both the Bruins and the Broncos are solid candidates to be seeded and if deemed strong enough against the other candidates could be included in the quartet seeded nationally despite being rivals in the West region. Last year, Portland and UCLA were seeded on opposite sides of the bracket, and they met in the final, which the Pilots won, 4-0.

No. 7 Portland is also a seed candidate but a 3-2 loss to Santa Clara last week hampers its chances. Possibly, Portland could land in the same boat as the Broncos did last year; to be seeded second in its regional bracket of 16 teams and having to travel in case the top seed advances to the quarterfinals. Last year, Santa Clara beat Fresno State and Saint Louis as host, then lost at Penn State, 2-1, in the quarters.

Behind UNC, the ACC has become a scramble, which muddies greatly which team in the Southeast region might merit a No. 2 regional seed behind the Tar Heels. No. 6 Florida State (13-2-2) lost at Duke, 3-1, after beating Wake Forest on the road, 3-2.

Teams to watch in the ACC tournament are Clemson (10-6-1), which beat Duke and knocked off N.C. State last week, and Boston College (10-5-2), a 1-0 winner on the road against Virginia. On Sunday, Duke and Wake Forest have to make up a conference game halted by lightning in the 53rd minute on Oct. 11. Duke was leading at the time, 1-0, but the match will be replayed entirely, not resumed.

West Virginia (14-2-2) lost at home to Connecticut in Big East play and has dropped to No. 8 in the national rankings, which do not come directly into play when the selection committee makes its choices. Those decisions are based on strength of schedule and head-to-head results as well as overall record.

The 64-team NCAA Tournament field is scheduled to be announced on Nov. 6 between 3-4 p.m. ET on ESPNEWS.

WEDNESDAY WOMEN'S ACTION

CAL STATE FULLERTON 0 LONG BEACH STATE 1.
LBSU secured at least a share of its first-ever Big West title and will host the conference tournament, beginning on Nov. 3, following its 1-0 win over defending champion Cal State Fullerton. Kim Silos scored for the 49ers with 25 seconds left in the first half.
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