WSU soccer to play UCF in first round of NCAA tournament


EZEKIEL NELSON | Daily Evergreen file

Freshman forward Elyse Bennett chases down the ball after taking possession with a header during a Sept. 21 game against Stanford University.

DANIEL PARAMO, Evergreen reporter

With the soccer regular season over, WSU will travel to Florida to face its first opponent of the NCAA tournament, No. 8 University of Central Florida. The Knights are undefeated in conference play and have lost one regular season game.

The Cougars (9-7-3, 4-6-1) concluded their regular season with a tie against rival University of Washington in the Apple Cup. They were selected to the NCAA tournament one day after their draw. It is the 11th tourney appearance in program history.

Six other conference teams were selected, including Pac-12 champion Stanford University, University of Southern California and University of California, Los Angeles. The Cardinal earned the No. 1 seed overall due to their performance this season.

WSU enters the tournament as underdogs on paper, as UCF’s overall record features more wins and fewer losses. The Knights’ (13-1-3, 7-0-2) only regular season loss came in a 2-0 defeat to No. 4 University of South Carolina.

Since that Aug. 18 defeat, UCF has scored 54 goals in 15 games, including a 12-0 scrimmage victory against Eastern Florida State College.

Cougar soccer recently upset No. 2 UCLA with a 1-0 victory in Pullman. Earlier in the season, WSU upset No. 24 Utah, No. 14 Nebraska and tied against No. 18 Minnesota.

“This is going on year three and I’ve asked them, you know we need a signature win, we need a big win,” WSU Head Coach Todd Shulenberger said after the UCLA game. “We’re good enough.”

The upcoming postseason game will be the first of three NCAA tournament rounds, and will be held at UCF because the Knights have a higher seed than WSU. If the Cougars advance, the next round will be played on either Nov. 17 or Nov. 19.

WSU will face off against UCF at 4 p.m. Saturday in the UCF Soccer Complex.

Reporting by Daniel Paramo