Wildcats will host Northern Colorado in opening round of NCAA Tournament for first time in program history
Arizona defender Alexa Montgomery (20) swoops in to challenge Arizona State forward Cali Farquharson (17) during the Wildcats' 1-4 loss to the Sun Devils on Nov. 6 at Murphey Field at Mulcahy Soccer Stadium.
The historic regular season has paid off for the Arizona women’s soccer team. After finishing with a 12-5-2 overall record and and tied for fourth in the daunting Pac-12 Conference, the Wildcats were not only selected to play in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year, they’ll be hosting the first round.
It will be the first time the program has ever hosted an NCAA Tournament game.
“It’s really, really exciting,” Arizona head coach Tony Amato said. “We’ve been working really hard and the idea of hosting an NCAA [Tournament] game may have been far from a lot of people’s minds, but we knew if we tried to win every game we played, we’d eventually get there.”
Although it is exciting for a team to host, the final goal is not even close to over.
“Making the tournament is one thing, and getting to play at home is totally another for us,” he added. “So we’re excited, and we’re ready to get prepared for this weekend’s game."
The Wildcats are coming off of a brutal 4-1 home loss on Senior Night against Arizona State University, but the team is ready to put that behind it on focus on its next opponent, the Northern Colorado Golden Bears.
“It’s been an unbelievable season,” Amato told his team. “I know we put [that] game in a box, and it hurt and stung us, but when you look at what you guys have accomplished this year with a 12-win season, ranked in the Top 25, an RPI that reached as high as 13 and to host the first game of the NCAA Tournament is a massive, massive accomplishment.”
The Bears went 13-7-2 in the regular season, including a 7-2-1 record in the Big Sky Conference.
The team is coached by Tim Barrera, and Amato mentioned that he and Barrera have participated in some soccer camps together, so he’s very familiar with the Northern Colorado head coach.
That said, this will be the first time Arizona and Northern Colorado have faced each other.
Should the Wildcats win, they’d then play the winner of the Santa Clara-Long Beach State game next weekend. Santa Clara is a national seed in the tournament, and while Arizona did beat the team 2-1 in August, this time the game would be in Santa Clara.
If Long Beach State pulls off the upset and Arizona wins, the Wildcats would host next Friday.
Of course, beating Northern Colorado is much easier said than done, and as with all NCAA Tournament games, this game could very well go down to the wire.
“We’re proud of the team, but we don’t want to be one-and-done in the tournament,” Amato said. “So we have some work to do, and the girls will put the work in to do that.”
Kickoff is at 6 p.m. in Tucson at Mulcahy Soccer Stadium.
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