Nov. 7, 2011
BERKELEY - California has earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Division I Women's Soccer Championship, the NCAA announced on Monday. The Golden Bears, who completed the regular season 12-6-2 overall and placed sixth in the Pac-12 Conference with a 5-4-2 league mark, will travel to Santa Clara on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 2 p.m. at Buck Shaw Stadium in the tournament's first round.
Monday's selection marks Cal's eighth straight appearance in the NCAA Championship and 13th in the past 14 seasons. The Golden Bears have earned an NCAA berth all five seasons under head coach Neil McGuire.
"There is no doubt that Santa Clara is an exceptional team," McGuire said. "They have a great coach and a tremendous tradition and history. This is a matchup that we anticipated based on our current RPI and their current RPI. In our own minds, we have been preparing for this game. I think our team and their team are both very different from when we played over a month ago. We are certainly playing very good soccer and I know they are too. I think both teams will play very well and it is going to come down to executing in front of the goal and making sure no mistakes are made."
Santa Clara enters the NCAA Championship with a 13-2-5 overall record and No. 7 national ranking by the National Coaches Association of America (NSCAA). Playing for the West Coast Conference title, the Broncos fell at San Diego, 3-0, in their last match this past Friday. The Broncos are 7-1-2 at Buck Shaw Stadium this season. Cal owns a 17-14-5 all-time record against Santa Clara. The schools squared off earlier this year on the same field with the Broncos posting a 3-0 victory over the Bears on Sept. 25. The setback ended an eight-match winning streak for Cal.
"Playing locally allows us to have a regular work week in terms of our preparation and the girls will be able to attend classes and keep their normal schedule," said McGuire, whose teams have competed in the state of Florida in the opening round of the NCAA Championship in three of his first four seasons at the helm of the Bears. "There is tremendous value in not traveling any great distance. Going one hour on the bus is very normal for us. Santa Clara has a tremendous soccer pitch. Their field is great which is going to allow both teams to play great soccer which is good for the fans."
The winner of Saturday's match will face the winner of the Boston College-Marist contest in the second round of the NCAA Championship on Friday, Nov. 18, at Stanford.
This will be Cal's 19th appearance in the NCAA Championship in the program's 30-year history. The Golden Bears own a 13-18-1 all-time record in the post-season tournament. They have advanced to the semifinal round of the tournament, three times - 1984, 1987 and 1988. Cal has advanced to at least the second round of the tournament four out of the last six seasons. Last fall, the Bears dropped a 2-1 decision to Duke in a first-round match in Tallahassee, Fla.
Tickets for Saturday's match are $10 for adults, $7 for youth 12 and under and seniors 65 and over. Gates will open at 1 p.m. You can purchase tickets in advance of Saturday's match by clicking here.
Click here for the complete bracket of the 2011 NCAA Division I Women's Soccer Championship.