WVU in danger of missing tournament
Published: Thursday, November 1, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 1, 2012 10:11
After two critical consecutive losses, the West Virginia men’s soccer team is now in serious danger of not being selected for the 2012 NCAA tournament. Another loss in the Mountaineers’ regular season finale could abruptly end WVU’s season altogether.
The NCAA tournament’s official selection committee will meet Nov. 12 to decide and announce who will be invited and who will be left out. And although the Mountaineers have proven time and again on the pitch this season that they can definitely compete at the level of teams like North Carolina and Akron, they still haven’t been able to break through for the all-important result against any of the marquee names.
Unfortunately, the 48 teams that will be selected by the committee will be chosen based on the results within the season, which have simply not favored the Mountaineers down the stretch.
Because of those crucial missteps, before WVU can even contemplate making the NCAA tournament, the Mountaineers will first have to worry about making the Mid-American Conference tournament their first year in the league.
After dropping a tightly contested match in Akron 2-1 two weeks ago, the Mountaineers were certainly disappointed, but No. 2 Akron was heavily favored to win on their own pitch.
Then in West
Virginia’s next game against Northern Illinois, a MAC opponent that WVU was expected to take down, the Mountaineers were shut out in a crippling conference result that could end up shutting them out of both the MAC and 2012 NCAA tournament.
The loss moved the Mountaineers to a mediocre 8-5-2 overall and 3-2-1 within the MAC, which currently ties them second with a host of other teams. So there’s a chance WVU could still earn the conference’s second overall seed for the MAC tournament that begins Nov. 9 at First Energy Field in Akron, Ohio.
At the same time, there’s still a chance that the Mountaineers could miss making the MAC tournament altogether, which would also eradicate any chance of playing for a national title.
The Mountaineers’ final regular season match with Bowling Green, which wasn’t initially expected to be a match WVU’s season success would hinge on, is now just that – the most critical match of West Virginia’s season. If the Mountaineers can’t get the result on the road against the Falcons, they’ll slip to 3-3-1 in the conference.
Northern Illinois is 3-2-1 in the MAC with only lowly Buffalo standing in the way of their bid for the conference championship. But even if they lose along with the Mountaineers, they’ll own the season tiebreaker.
Western Michigan, also 3-2-1 in the MAC, is slated to take on Akron, who hasn’t dropped a MAC game in over 40 consecutive conference appearances. Since Western Michigan and the Mountaineers played to a draw in their only match of the season, the tiebreaker is determined next by point accumulation vs. ranked teams and then by goal
differential in conference games.
Akron is the MAC’s only ranked team, which would mean that a loss for both Western Michigan and the Mountaineers in their final conference games would bring their season down to the absolute wire. Currently the Mountaineers have a conference goal differential of 11:5, and the Broncos are at 10:5.
Fortunately, the Mountaineers do have some control over their own destiny. If they win against Bowling Green in the regular-season finale, they’ll be in the MAC tournament regardless, which would allow them to play their way into a second chance to play No. 2 Akron.
The Mountaineers have yet to log a win away from Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium this season, and they won’t play another match on their home pitch.
So, West Virginia’s match against BGSU this Saturday night will not only determine if the Mountaineers’ somewhat underwhelming season will continue into the latter stages of November, but also if its seniors will get another chance to suit up for WVU.