ACC ALL-AROUND: For the first time in NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship history all four number one seeds are from the same conference. The ultra-competitive Atlantic Coast Conference claimed each of the top seeds as Virginia, Florida State, Virginia Tech and North Carolina were selected as No. 1 seeds in the 64-team bracket. Virginia, the ACC regular season champion, and Virginia Tech earned No. 1 seeds for the first time in program history. Florida State was named a top seed for the third straight season, while defending NCAA champion North Carolina was a No. 1 seed for the 22nd time in program history. “Going through our conference has been a challenge all year,” said Virginia Tech head coach Chugger Adair said. “It’s nice to see that our accomplishments were recognized by the selection committee. We look forward to backing up our seeding and getting after it (when first-round play starts) on Friday evening.” In all, eight ACC teams were selected to the tournament. For a full schedule, check out the official bracket on NCAA.com: http://www.ncaa.com/interactive-bracket/soccer-women/d1/2013.
WE MEET AGAIN: Pac-12 champion No. 2 seed UCLA will host Mountain West champion San Diego State in the first round of NCAA Tournament action on Friday as the two squads meet for the second consecutive postseason. The Bruins knocked out the Aztecs in the third round with a 3-0 victory last season. It is the third time in the past two seasons the two programs will meet. They also clashed on Sept. 13 in Los Angeles as the Bruins claimed a 2-0 win. The Aztecs are rolling and enter the contest on a seven-game winning streak, but the Bruins are pretty stout. UCLA has not lost since falling at Duke on Sept. 8, the contest before the San Diego State meeting. And, the Bruins own a 10-1-1 advantage in the series. "Any draw is going to be a hard draw at this point,” " UCLA head coach Amanda Cromwell said. “We know San Diego State very well, I know their coach very well, and it's going to be a tough game."
STORMIN’ AHEAD: St. Johns University will make the program’s second NCAA appearance, and first since 2009, as the Red Storm travels to No. 3 UCF on Saturday. The team is led offensively by sophomore forward Rachel Daly, who garnered both Big East Offensive Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year after scoring a single-season school record 47 points and 22 goals. But Daly will have her hands full with the Golden Knights, who are fresh off winning the first-ever American Athletic Conference title and boast a .479 goals against average, which ranks seventh nationally. UCF enters the match on a five-game shutout streak.
STILL A CHANCE: While Northeastern University may be the lone team in the field with a losing record at 6-8-6, the Huskies knocked off the top two seeds in the Colonial Athletic Association Championship and earned the league’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament, extending its season for at least one more game. It is a pretty remarkable feat considering opening the season with a 0-6-3 record against non-conference action. "Through the struggles of the first half of the season, the team stayed together and believed in our potential,” head coach Tracey Leone said. “As we entered conference play, we re-committed ourselves to this dream, and all of our previous struggles became a valuable learning experience.” It is the Huskies’ first NCAA appearance since 2008. They will travel across town to face Boston College on Friday.
FIRST-TIMERS: UMBC captured the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance by winning the America East Conference, just one year after finishing in last place in the league. The Retrievers were 1-11-5 in 2012 with a 0-5-3 mark in league action, but completely turned it around this season with a 13-5-2 overall record and 6-2 mark in America East play. It was the biggest turnaround in league history. UMBC will be rewarded with a trip to No. 1 seed Virginia Tech on Friday.
ON A ROLL: Monmouth University, the national leader in shutout percentage (.800) and goals against average (.293) rolls into the postseason on a 14-game unbeaten streak after earning the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2009 by winning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title. However, the Hawks will be tested as they travel to No. 4 seed Penn State, last year’s NCAA runner-up and the nation’s fourth-best scoring offense (2.71 goals per game). Monmouth boasts a 17-1-2 record and has not surrendered a goal in the last 763:58 minutes of play. The Hawks have posted a school-record 16 shutouts this season and tied the program-record with 17 victories. They visit the Nittany Lions on Friday.
RIVAL GAME: The University of Denver earned a No. 4 seed and will host a first round game for the second consecutive season. On Saturday, the Pioneers will host in-state rival Colorado, who they beat 3-0 on Sept. 15.
“I was really happy to get one of the top-16 seeds,” Denver head coach Jeff Hooker said. “That is one thing we set out during the year to do. The NCAA has a cruel way of putting rival team’s together and they’ve done that again. We have Colorado, who is our in-state rival and if we were to win that, it’d most likely be BYU who we’ve played once already this year.” Denver (18-1-1) handed Colorado (12-6-2) its first loss this season as senior Kristen Hamilton, the team’s leading scorer, contributed two goals and one assist to become the program’s all-time goals leader.
Amy Farnum Patronis is a contributing writer for College Soccer News covering Division I women's soccer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org