USC Denied Birth in NCAA's Again
LOS ANGELES, Calif.--Despite having its best season ever at 16-3-1, the USC women's soccer team was left out of the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year when the pairings were announced on Tuesday.
"This is hard to believe," USC Coach Jim Millinder said. "You look at everything we did and I can't believe it. 16-3-1 should be good enough to be in. I don't know what their criteria was, but I'm going to find out."
Thirty-two teams are in the tournament, with 16 receiving automatic berths. USC had a better winning percentage than 19 of the 32 teams.
Also, of the 16 teams that received at-large bids, six teams either unranked or ranked lower than No. 23 USC in the most recent Soccer News poll made the tournament.
For the second straight year, the team gathered in the USC football office to watch the NCAA selection show, but for the second straight year, they went away disappointed. USC was 15-5 in 1996, but the coaches felt much better about their chances this year after a second-place Pac-10 finish and a stronger non-conference schedule.
"I'm shocked only one Pac-10 team made it in," Millinder said. "I'm shocked looking at the brackets and seeing some of the teams that made it in."
The NCAA stayed away from the West Region, as only four schools made the tournament: top seeds Portland and Santa Clara, Pac-10 champ UCLA and Western Athletic Conference runner-up BYU.
For seniors Christi Ayala, Laura Badagliacco, Brittany McCorduck, Adrienne Navarra and Sheri Simala, this ends their careers.
"Our seniors had such a great season," Millinder said. "It's a shame we can't send them off better than this. We'll miss them."