COLUMBUS, Ohio The Ohio State women’s soccer team was selected as an at-large team to the NCAA Tournament and will take on Hofstra Friday in a first-round game at Jeffrey Field on the campus of Penn State University. The host and No. 1 seed Nittany Lions meet Monmouth in the other opening round game.
“This is a fitting for our seniors,” Lori Walker, Ohio State head coach, said. “Our seniors have emerged through a lot of adversity to get back to the NCAAs. That’s the part we are really excited about.”
Ohio State will be making its fourth NCAA appearance, all under the direction of Walker. The Buckeyes’ previous appearances were in 2002-03-04. In 2004, three current seniors Lara Dickenmann, Keiana Mitchell and Carla Arbulu played on the team’s wonderful run to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. The Buckeyes have missed the NCAA Tournament the past two years and getting back was a clear goal this year.
“I’m excited and I’m glad we made it,” Dickenmann said. “I don’t know much about Hofstra, but it doesn’t matter because all four teams are going to be good. It has been a hard two years. They weren’t easy. But we got better and we learned and we deserve this. We deserve to be in the tournament.”
“This is an unbelievable feeling,” Amanda Ball, one of three senior tri-captains along with Dickenmann and Mitchell, said. “I don’t know how else to answer. What we’ve been through the last couple years [not making the tournament] has been hard. But we’re on our way back up now.”
The Buckeyes are 12-9-1 and are coming off a championship game appearance in the Big Ten Conference Tournament. The Buckeyes advanced to the championship game by defeating No. 4 seed Indiana in overtime, 2-1, in a quarterfinal contest and then stunning No. 1 Penn State in the semifinals in a game decided on penalty kicks, 5-4. The seniors showed the way.
“Our seniors have emerged through a lot of adversity,” Walker said. “Carla Arbulu came through huge for us with the tying goal against Indiana.. Keiana played some of her best soccer of the year the first two games. Lara continues to always attract the attention of the other team. Amanda continues to give us good minutes and to be a leader. I like the way the seniors have come through for us.”
Hofstra comes in to the NCAA Tournament at 17-3 overall on the year, setting a new school record for wins in a season. The Pride earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with a 1-0 win over Virginia Commonwealth in the Colonial Athletic Association championship game on Sunday. Hofstra will be making its second trip to the NCAA Tournament after earning its first bid in 2005.
Five Big Ten teams made this year’s NCAA Tournament. Indiana as well as Big Ten tournament champion Purdue and Illinois also made it out of the Big Ten.
“I think that getting five teams in shows the strength of the Big Ten Conference,” Walker said. “All five teams have had big wins. I’m glad to see the committee respects the Big Ten.”
AN OSU NCAA NOTES SNAPSHOT...
2007 is the 15th season of women’s soccer at Ohio State and this will be its fourth NCAA Tournament appearance.
Ohio State is 4-3 in its previous NCAAs.
Ohio State is 3-1 at home in NCAA games, 1-0 vs. teams on neutral sites and 0-2 against a host school.
Ohio State is 2-1 in the 1st round, 1-1 in the 2nd, 1-0 in the 3rd and 0-1 in Elite Eight games.
Senior tri-captain Lara Dickenmann had a goal and assist in 2004 vs. Bowling Green and an assist vs. Detroit. Keiana Mitchell a goal vs. Detroit, with Dickenmann picking up the assist.
Dickenmann and Mitchell are the only Buckeyes who have started in an NCAA Tournament game. Each started all four games for Ohio State in 2004. Carla Arbulu is the only other Buckeye with NCAA experience. She was a substitute in all four fo the 2004 games.