Unseeded West Virginia to take on Virginia Tech in first round of NCAA tournament
Published: Monday, November 7, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 00:11
Just 24 hours after winning the Big East Conference title, the West Virginia women's soccer team was snubbed by the NCAA selection committee.
The Big East Champion Mountaineers were not granted one of the 16 top seeds in this year's tournament and will play host to Virginia Tech at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium Saturday, Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
"I think my first emotion is disappointment in the NCAA committee," said West Virginia head coach Nikki Izzo-Brown. "We were hoping that we would be rewarded for all of our hard work. It's frustrating, but we'll play anybody, anytime, any day, and that's what we're going to have to do."
A live feed from the NCAA was playing for the Mountaineers in the Jerry West Lounge of the Coliseum Monday evening, and when their regional matchup appeared, only a couple of the stunned players verbally griped about the unfavorable seeding.
Then the near-silence was broken by Izzo-Brown, who let out a facetious yell of approval of WVU's placing.
Her team followed, erupting in sarcastic cheers of their own.
"Obviously it's not the path we were expecting, but that happens," said senior defender Meghan Lewis. "People look at us and don't give us as much respect as I think we deserve. But we can use that as motivation to fight and show them who we really are."
Last season, WVU was the third seed and advanced to the Sweet 16 before falling to No. 2 Boston College.
Of the 64-team field, only 16 teams (the top four in each region) are awarded a seeding.
WVU will be one of only four teams to represent the Big East along with Louisville, Notre Dame and Marquette.
The road will not be easy for WVU, as top programs like VT, Virginia and Texas A&M make for a crowded region.
"You're in the NCAA tournament. The best teams are here now," Izzo-Brown said and later reiterated to her players. "So if we have to do it early, we'll do it early."
This year's tournament berth will mark the 12th consecutive appearance for WVU, which is the ninth-longest active streak in the nation.
Last year's NCAA first-round match against Morehead State drew 1,688 fans, the second-largest crowd in WVU women's soccer history.
West Virginia will enter the tournament on an eight-game win streak and has won 15 of its last 16 games.
The first round of the tournament will begin on Nov. 11, and matches through the first three rounds will take place at campus sites.
The Final Four will commence Dec. 2 in Kennesaw, Ga.
Finally, the 2011 NCAA women's soccer season will conclude on the campus of Kennesaw State with the Dec. 4 national championship match.