By Jacob Nielson
The No. 18 BYU women”s soccer team was granted an at-large bid into the 2006 NCAA women”s soccer tournament, ESPN announced Monday, Nov. 6, 2006.
The bid pits BYU (13-2-4) against defending National Champions Portland (14-3-3) in the first round of play, which will be hosted by Utah at Ute Field.
“We are glad to be in [the tournament],” BYU assistant coach Chris Watkins said, “They”re a great team.”
The game is scheduled to take place Thursday, (Nov. 9, 2006) following Utah”s match with Idaho State at 3:30 p.m., putting the Cougar”s kick-off time at around 5:00 p.m.
“You play all year to get to this point,” BYU coach Jennifer Rockwood said. “So we”re excited.”
BYU”s at-large bid comes on the heels of its disappointing finish in the Mountain West Conference tournament. Although the Cougars entered the tournament as the number two seed and ranked No. 13 in the country, they bowed out early in a penalty-kick loss to UNLV last Thursday, (Nov. 2, 2006).
The University of Portland comes in to the match boasting a No. 6 national ranking and a strong soccer history. With last season”s national championship, Portland became one of just three schools nationally to win multiple national titles (2002, 2005). However, The Pilots may have a chip on their shoulder this week, as they failed to earn one of the tournament”s 16 seeded berths despite being ranked in the top 10 in every major national poll.
Portland is led by freshman forward Michelle Enyeart, who has poured in 16 goals and six assists on the year. Pilot goalkeeper Cori Alexander has notched five shutouts as her squad has outscored its opponents 55-13 on the season.
BYU had a disappointing showing in last season”s NCAA tournament, as they were slated to host Weber State in Provo. However, flooding in the Smith Fieldhouse forced a move to Salt Lake City, where the Wildcats upset the heavily favored Cougars on penalty kicks. The loss put a disappointing finish on the Cougars” otherwise successful campaign.
The victor between BYU and Portland will take on the winner of the Utah-Idaho State match on Saturday at Ute Field.
The NCAA chose 64 teams to be in the tournament, with 30 teams automatically taking a spot after winning their individual conference championship.
This year”s entrance into the NCAA tournament is BYU”s ninth in the last 10 years.
The Daily Universe Sports Editor David Rasmussen contributed to this story.