BYU prepares to take on Weber State in the first round of the NCAA tournament. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah (Nov. 7)--The BYU women's soccer team was all smiles as the Cougars earned a No. 4 seed in the 2005 NCAA tournament, ESPNEWS announced Monday afternoon. BYU will play Weber State in Salt Lake City on Thursday, followed by a Utah-Arizona matchup.
"We're really excited," head coach Jennifer Rockwood said. "We've worked very hard throughout the course of the season. The fact that the NCAA selection committee seeded us shows the respect we've earned."
The NCAA tournament is comprised of 64 teams, with 30 teams earning automatic bids after winning their conference tournaments and 34 team receiving at-large invitations. The games this weekend will be played at 16 different sites across the nation.
The Top 16 teams in the nation are seeded, consisting of four sets of teams ranked one through four. BYU (15-2-3) received the ranked position in its division of the bracket. The Cougars draw Weber State (15-2-3) on Thursday at 4:30 p.m., on Ute Field. In the second game Utah (14-6-1) hosts Arizona (9-7-3). The winners of both games will play Saturday.
Live stats will be available for all games. The web links can be found at Go Cougars!.
The Cougars welcome a couple of firsts for this tournament. It marks the first time BYU has received a seed in the NCAA tournament and the first time three teams from the Mountain West Conference are going to the tournament. UNLV received an automatic bid after winning the MWC tournament.
Having already played seven of the teams making NCAA appearances, including the three other teams in the bracket, BYU feels prepared for this weekend. The Cougars beat Weber State and Arizona, while tying archrival Utah. BYU has also defeated UNLV, Texas, California and Wisconsin.
"I think our draw is great," forward Natalie Nate said. "There are a lot of great teams in our bracket and we definitely can't overlook Weber State. But our team is ready and focused for this weekend."
BYU players are excited to travel to Salt Lake City, as the Cougars have never lost on Ute Field. BYU's run to the Elite Eight in 2003 also began in Salt Lake City. The Cougars return two starters, Jaime Rendich Beck and Charlene Lui, from the 2003 team.
BYU's offensive attack is overwhelming for opponents, as ten Cougars have earned five or more points. Jaime Rendich Beck is a force to be reckoned with, netting ten goals and accumulating seven assists on the season. Rendich Beck's sidekick is Bobbi Tillotson, who has scored six goals and posted seven assists of her own. Following close behind is Katie Larkin and Jessica Aquino, recording 13 points and 12 points, respectively. Annie Zwahlen has earned nine points on three goals and three assists. Natalie Nate and Carolyn Swenson have each amassed seven points, while Brooke Thulin has earned six points. Goalkeeper Erika Woodbury protects the net, saving the ball 47 times in over 1,600 minutes of action.
After a tremendous preseason, the Cougars struggled slightly during conference play, learning valuable lessons in conference--a fact Rockwood thinks will serve her team well.
"Hopefully it's prepared us well because it's all down to one game now."
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