Nov. 7, 2011
STANFORD, Calif. - To no one's surprise, Stanford was awarded the No. 1 overall seed for the NCAA women's soccer tournament and opens at home Friday (7 p.m.) against Montana.
The Grizzlies (6-11-4) of Missoula, Mont., earned the trip after beating Weber State on penalty kicks in the Big Sky Conference final.
The Cardinal (19-0-1), the Pac-12 champion, will be playing in its 14th consecutive NCAA tournament and will be seeking to advance to its fourth consecutive College Cup, third consecutive final, and win its first national championship.
"It's business as usual," Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said. "We're excited for the challenge and we want to prove that we're the best team in the country."
Stanford is the consensus No. 1 team in the country, but Ratcliffe disregards the pressure to live up to the ranking and status as a No. 1 seed.
"Once you get to the playoffs everyone has a target on them," Ratcliffe said. "Everyone feels the pressure in the playoffs. It's how you perform on the day, and how competitive you are on the day. "
As for being a No. 1 seed for the third consecutive season, Ratcliffe said, "It's great to be the No. 1 seed. And to play at home is the best part of being a No. 1."
The second-round matchup will pit the Stanford-Montana winner against the winner of Texas (11-8-1) at South Carolina (15-6). The third-round opponent would come from among Santa Clara, California, Marist and Boston College. B.C. is the only other seed in Stanford's eight-team pod.
To reach the College Cup, Stanford would need to get past No. 2 seed Oklahoma State, defending champion Notre Dame, or Maryland in the quarterfinals. Notre Dame beat Stanford in last year's final and Maryland tied the Cardinal, 0-0, on Aug. 26 for the only blemish in Stanford's unbeaten season.
The four No. 1 seeds are Stanford, Florida State, Wake Forest and Duke. If the seeds hold, Stanford would play Florida State in the College Cup semifinals and Duke in the final.
Tickets for the first round will be sold beginning Tuesday at 9 a.m. They can be purchased by phone at 1-800-STANFORD, online at gostanford.com, or in person at the ticket office at Gate 4 of Stanford Stadium.
First-round matches will be played at campus sites. Unlike past seasons, just one round will be played the first weekend, followed by two rounds at a single campus site the following weekend (Nov. 18 and 20).
As long as it remains in the tournament, there is a strong chance Stanford will play host through the quarterfinals.
The 30th annual NCAA Women's College Cup will be played Dec. 2 and 4 at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga.
For the full bracket, click here.