Four Big Ten Teams Earn Bids to Women's NCAA Championship
Nov. 6, 2006
The bracket for the 2006 Division I NCAA Women's Soccer Championship is set and was announced today by the Women's Soccer Committee, as four Big Ten squads are among the 64-team field. Illinois, Michigan, Penn State and Purdue will all compete in first round action on Friday, November 10. This marks the 11th consecutive year the conference has received at least three NCAA bids.
The 2006 Big Ten Tournament and regular season champion Penn State will make its 12th appearance as the No. 2 seed, hosting Niagara in its opening-round game. The Nittany Lions are coming off their first conference tournament title in five years after claiming their ninth-consecutive regular season crown. Niagara earned an automatic bid to the tournament after winning its first Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship with a 2-1 victory over Siena.
In the 2005 postseason event, the Nittany Lions advanced to their third College Cup before falling in penalty kicks to evenutal national champion Portland in the semifinal round.
Illinois earns its fourth-consecutive - and sixth overall - postseason appearance. The Illini will travel to St. Louis, Mo., to face Southeast Missouri State on Friday, Nov. 10 at the first and second rounds hosted by Saint Louis University.
Illinois' best run in the tournament came in 2004, when it advanced to the Elite Eight before falling to No. 4 Santa Clara.
In other first round action, Purdue will make its fourth overall postseason appearance - all of which have come in the past five seasons - when it travels to Milwaukee, Wis., to take on Big East foe Marquette.
Michigan rounds out the Big Ten teams in the field as it returns to the NCAA Tournament after a one-year hiatus. The Wolverines, who have earned a national tourney spot in nine of the past 10 seasons, are set for a first-round meeting with Wisconsin-Milwaukee in South Bend, Ind. The Wolverines won the only other meeting all-time against UW-Milwaukee, a 3-2 win in 2000 at the U-M Soccer Field.
The 25th annual NCAA Division I Women's College Cup will be played December 1 and 3 at SAS Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina. North Carolina State University is hosting the championship for the first time since 1989. Penn State and Wisconsin are the only Big Ten teams to have made it to the College Cup. The Nittany Lions also lost in the semifinals in 2002 to Portland, 2-0, and in 1999 to North Carolina, 2-0. Wisconsin advanced to the championship match in 1991 before falling to the Tar Heels, 3-1.