Penn State women’s soccer’s path to its second straight National Championship Game just became a little clearer.
Erica Walsh’s 20th-ranked Nittany Lions received a No. 4 seed in their region of the bracket as an at-large team yesterday, with the team’s first match scheduled for this Friday at Jeffrey Field against Monmouth at 7:30 p.m.
Penn State’s draw in the tournament is extremely difficult. The Nittany Lions have potential matches looming against four foes from earlier this season — No. 1 Virginia, No. 3 Michigan, and unranked La Salle and Iowa. Penn State has a combined 1-4-0 record against those teams.
This is the 19th straight year that Penn State women’s soccer has received a bid for the NCAA Tournament. However, this was also the first time since 1997-98 that the team failed to win the Big Ten regular season or postseason championship.
While this season has been slightly disappointing — Penn State was ranked fourth coming into its 2013 campaign — there have been plenty of bright spots, including senior forward Maya Hayes. The first team All-Big Ten selection and U.S. International is arguably the best player in all of college soccer, as her 19 goals were tied for the sixth most in America this year.
As for the team’s matchup with Monmouth, this is the second time that the two programs have faced each other. They last played in the first round of the 2007 tournament and the Nittany Lions defeated the Hawks 4-0.
The entire bracket can be found here.