Illinois, Penn State Prepare for NCAA Third Round
Nov. 15, 2006
Half of the four Big Ten teams to qualify for the 2006 NCAA Women's Soccer Championship have advanced to the third round as Illinois and Penn State earned spots in the 16-team field, each squad claiming with a pair of victories last weekend.
No. 2 seed Penn State will host Boston College Sunday, Nov. 19. The match will mark the fourth time out of the last five years that the Lions have hosted a third round game. Ranked eighth nationally, the Nittany Lions earned their third-round birth after wins over Niagara (2-1) and Villanova (2-0). Boston College makes its appearance after beating Boston University, 3-0, and then upsetting No. 3 seed Rutgers on its home field in penalty kicks, 4-2, after a scoreless tie on Sunday.
Penn State won its ninth straight Big Ten title this year and also captured the Big Ten Tournament title before receiving its 12th NCAA bid in just its 13th year overall. A win over the Eagles on would signal the Lions' sixth quarterfinal appearance in the past seven years.
Making its sixth NCAA appearance, third-seeded Illinois will face second-seeded Florida State on Sunday at 1 p.m. in Tallahassee, Fla. The No. 15 Illini advanced with a 4-1 win over Saint Louis in second-round play after downing Southeast Missouri State, 2-0, in their 12th shutout of the year. Meanwhile, the fifth-ranked Seminoles moved into the Round of 16 after dispatching California, 3-1. The two teams collided in last year's NCAA Tournament second round, with Florida advancing with a 2-1win to move into the third round.
Michigan and Purdue were also awarded bids to the 2006 NCAA Championship, but both teams saw their seasons end in first round action. Competing it its fourth NCAA Championship, the Boliermakers dropped a1-0 decision to Marquette. The Wolverines suffered a narrow loss on penalty kicks (5-3) to Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Penn State and Wisconsin are the only Big Ten teams to have advanced to the College Cup. The Nittany Lions lost in the semifinals in 2002 to Connecticut, 2-1, and in 1999 to North Carolina, 2-0. Wisconsin advanced to the championship match in 1991 before falling to the Tar Heels, 3-1.