CHARLOTTESVILLE – The Virginia women’s soccer team will travel to Penn State for the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament. The Cavaliers will meet St. John’s in the opening round on Friday, with the host Nittany Lions playing Colgate in the other first round match at the site. Friday’s winners will play Sunday in the second round.
“We are excited to be in the tournament,” said Virginia head coach Steve Swanson. “You never want to take getting into the NCAA Tournament for granted. I think our kids appreciate it more this year than any other year given how this season went. There was a chance late in the season when we might not make it, but I am proud of how we handled the adversity and performed late in the season. I think in some ways those experiences have prepared us even more for the tournament.”
The Cavaliers (9-5-5) were an at-large selection and are making their 16th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and 22nd overall appearance. Only North Carolina and Notre Dame have longer active streaks of tournament appearances.
Virginia and St. John’s will be meeting for the first time in history. The Red Storm (13-6-1) are making their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance.
“We don’t know much about St. John’s right now, but I know they are well coached,” said Swanson. “I have known Ian Stone for a long time and know his teams are always well organized and will be tough to break down. We are expecting a very competitive match, just like every NCAA Tournament match.”
The Cavaliers are making their second trip of the season to Happy Valley. Virginia lost 1-0 at Penn State in the season opener on Aug. 22.
“The nice thing is we have played at Penn State this year, so we know the environment,” said Swanson. “For our young players, I think it is a positive that we are going to a venue that we have some familiarity with, so we know what to expect.”
The Virginia-St. John’s game is slated for 5 p.m. Friday at Jeffrey Field. Penn State-Colgate will follow at 7:30 p.m. The second round game on Sunday is set for 1 p.m.