As they make the trip to Kansas City, Mo., for the Big 12 tournament, the back-to-back regular season conference champion West Virginia women’s soccer team needs to put on a showing for the nation.
WVU, currently 13-3-2, will have up to three opportunities to put the final touches on its impressive 2013 resume for the NCAA selection committee. West Virginia is No. 16 in NSCAA poll and No. 21 in RPI.
The NCAA women’s soccer tournament is similar to the old college basketball format of a 64-team bracket. The top 16 schools get seeded in the tournament and have the opportunity to host multiple games as the bracket progresses.
There’s really not much doubt that West Virginia will host at least one game at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium in Morgantown in November when the NCAA’s roll around. The goal for this weekend is to make that final push at obtaining a seed for the tournament. With possible games against Baylor and a rematch with No. 12 Texas Tech, the statement wins will be available.
The previous two seasons in the NCAA tournament have been forgettable and short-lived. In both 2011 and 2012, the Mountaineers were knocked out of the first round of the tournament after losing home games to Virginia Tech and Princeton. The losses have dropped the program’s all-time record at home in the NCAA’s to just 7-6. WVU hasn’t made a substantial run in the Big Dance since 2010 when the team won twice at home before losing in the third round.
The focus for head coach Nikki Izzo-Brown and her Mountaineers aren’t on the NCAA tournament and their past in the event. All season Izzo-Brown has been preaching the “one game at a time” approach. The next time West Virginia returns to the pitch, it will look to right its wrongs from the tournament last season when it was bounced in the first-round to upset-minded TCU.
I wouldn’t count on this weekend being a short one for WVU. At an incredible 14-2-1 all-time (in all competitions) in the Big 12, West Virginia has the inside track to becoming a Big 12 tournament champion as the No. 1 seed.
I do believe the Mountaineers could end their season Wednesday and still have a strong enough argument to host a first-round NCAA contest in Morgantown, but being nationally seeded and hosting more than just one game would greatly serve the women’s soccer team.
Prepare yourself to see the Mountaineers this November as they attempt to make their first Sweet 16 since 2010 and first Elite Eight since 2007 in their own backyard.