Soccer Season Is Officially Over as Utes Miss NCAAs

The Utah soccer team met together Monday afternoon to watch the announcement of the teams invited to the NCAA Tournament set to begin this week.

They went away disappointed.

The NCAA once again overlooked Utah when issuing invitations. Even the expansion of the playing field from 48 teams to 64 teams didn’t give the Utes a spot.

Utah coach Amy Winslow shut the television off to talk to her players after they realized they were once again left out of the postseason. She became emotional, telling her team how much she loved them.

“We’re disappointed,” Winslow said. “I think we had a good bubble shot. We upped our strength of schedule. We beat some teams that won their conferences.”

Utah played five teams that are in the tournament and beat two of them (Boston University and Miami of Ohio).

Utah was upset that the NCAA overlooked several quality west coast teams. Four teams made it from the PAC 10. Only BYU made it from the Mountain West Conference.

The NCAA seemed set on choosing eastern teams. Of the 64 teams, only 16 of them could be considered western. The remaining 48 teams were either from the East Coast or heartland area.

The strength of schedule was good for the Utes. Their 11-7 season was exceptional considering the quality of teams they lost to. With the exception of losses to UNLV and San Diego State, Utah’s defeats came at the hands of teams ranked in the top 25. They were all on the road as well.

The scheduled game against Marquette on Sept. 13 was canceled because of the Sept. 11 attacks. That was a big game for Utah that did not happen. Marquette is in the NCAA Tournament, and is also a host team. If the Utes had beaten the Wisconsin team, that would have been an enormous victory. The only people Utah can blame for that is the terrorists.

“That would have been key to have them on our home field,” Winslow said.

Utah’s power ranking was in the top 64. However, that was not enough to persuade NCAA personnel to invite the Utes.

Of those 64 teams, 28 were automatic qualifiers. They received an automatic invitation for winning their conferences. Many of those teams were not in the top 64. That eliminated spots for Utah.

“I’m disappointed for the whole team, but I’m more disappointed for the three seniors who really have built this program,” Winslow said.

“In my senior year, I would have loved to be on the first team from the U that goes to the NCAAs,” said senior Lesa Zollinger. “But I have all the confidence in the world that they’ll make it next year? You can’t have any regrets. You’ve just got to play. No regrets.”

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