Nov. 7, 2005
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Players, coaches and fans alike had plenty of reason to cheer Monday afternoon at the NCAA Selection Show press conference in The Bronco. After finishing the regular season 14-4-2 (4-2-1 WCC), including wins over top teams such as Notre Dame and California, the fifth-ranked Santa Clara women's soccer team will host the first two rounds of NCAA Tournament action at Buck Shaw Stadium, beginning the journey to an 11th College Cup appearance against Fresno State (10-9-1, 4-2-1 WAC) Friday evening at 5 p.m.
Following the Santa Clara-Fresno State match Friday, the Stanford Cardinal will face off against the Saint Louis Billikens in the nightcap of the day's doubleheader at 7:30 p.m. The winners will then do battle Sunday at a time to be announced Tuesday.
The Broncos will be making their 17th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament and are the only Division I school to have reached the quarterfinals in each of the last ten.
In a new seeding format, the NCAA broke the 16 seeds into quartets spread among four quadrants in the bracket. Each quadrant contains four teams seeded 1-4, and the Broncos were awarded a no. 2 seed in a quadrant which includes no. 1 seed Penn State, no. 3 Connecticut and no. 4 Texas A&M.
The Broncos' four-team draw is made up of four teams that they have faced once already in the 2005 season. Santa Clara defeated first-round opponent Fresno State 2-0 on October 7, beat Saint Louis 2-1 on September 23 to give Jerry Smith his 300th career victory, and fell to Stanford 1-0 at Maloney Field on September 30.
"I'm very happy with our seed and very happy that we're hosting this weekend," head coach Jerry Smith commented at the press conference. "All three teams that will be here this weekend we have faced in the regular season. We'll get ready for Fresno State, look back on the game film and do everything we can to prepare ourselves for that match."
Junior goalkeeper Julie Ryder concurred, adding, "I'm happy that we could get the opportunity to play the teams we've been drawn to play. We feel good about our team and hopefully we'll be able to step it up and take it to everybody."
Fresno State will be making only the second NCAA appearance in school history, with the first coming in 1999. The Bulldogs earned the Western Athletic Conference's automatic berth by running off three-straight victories in the WAC Tournament last week.
Saint Louis (15-4-0, 8-0-0 Atlantic-10) earned the Atlantic-10's automatic berth as they finished the conference season in perfect fashion. Stanford (10-6-3, 4-3-2 Pac-10), like Santa Clara, earned one of the NCAA's 34 at-large bids.
The West Coast Conference once again will send four teams to the tournament, as Portland, Santa Clara and Pepperdine return to postseason action with Gonzaga making its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
The Atlantic Coast Conference leads all conferences with seven teams in the tournament. The Big XII, Pac-10 and Big Ten will each send five teams to the dance, while four teams will represent the Big East Conference, and the Southeastern Conference. Thirty conferences were granted automatic bids for the 2005 championship. The remaining 34 teams were selected at-large.
Tickets for Friday's and Sunday's matches are on sale now by calling (408) 554-4660. Prices are $8 for adults and $6 for youths/seniors. Kick-off for Friday's matches are 5 and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday match is to be announced.