Women's soccer denied NCAA tournament bid

by Jennifer Yu | 11/7/06 6:00am

Women's soccer team members, watching the selection results in Collis, react to their NCAA tourney snub.
by Lauren Wool / The Dartmouth

Megan Wijas '06, one of the team's tri-captains, used three words to describe the team's reaction: disbelief, shock and disappointment.

Dartmouth is the only team in the top 25 to be left out of the 2006 NCAA tournament.

The Big Green, after an initial bump in the beginning of the season, had enjoyed one of the most successful seasons in recent years. The team lost only one of its last 12 games. Only one of Dartmouth's four losses this season was lost by more than a single goal.

However, the NCAA Division I Women's Soccer Committee overlooked the talented Big Green squad, who had been ranked in the top 30 of major national polls for the last few weeks.

"The selection committee must not have been in a good decision-making mindset and that's unfortunate for the NCAA," Wijas said. "It just doesn't make sense."

Instead, the committee picked seven-loss teams like Virginia (10-7-2), Connecticut (10-7-3), Clemson (11-7-2), Illinois (14-7-0), Michigan (9-7-5) and Duke (9-8-2), who barely had a winning record.

"The results were not fair. We feel cheated," Wijas said. "We might have been overlooked because the Ivy League had a rough year. Teams, like Princeton, Yale and Harvard, that are typically good, did poorly this year."

"Also, some 'big name' schools got bids when it seems like they shouldn't have," Wijas added.

However, as Wijas noted, the records of Dartmouth's opponents hurt the Big Green's postseason hopes. Teams in the Ivy League that had formerly been nationally competitive had mediocre seasons at best. Furthermore, only eight teams on the Big Green's 2006 schedule had winning records. And just three of these eight teams had 10 or more wins.

Four teams that Dartmouth competed against were selected for the tournament: Auburn (11-5-3), Boston University (13-3-3), Columbia (10-4-3) and Vanderbilt (10-4-6). The Terriers were the only one of those teams that the Big Green defeated this season.

Dartmouth opened the 2006 season against Auburn but lost 1-0 in overtime. The Vanderbilt loss was the Big Green's second game of the season and despite a valiant effort, the Big Green dropped the game 3-2.

As unimpressive as some of Dartmouth's opponents' records were, these teams were competitive throughout the season. Central Connecticut, whom Dartmouth defeated 3-1, went on to beat Hartford, the eventual America East Conference winner.

Iowa, who fell to the Big Green 5-0 in the Minnesota Gopher Invitational, beat Drake, the Missouri Valley Conference champion.

Dartmouth had qualified or been chosen to play in the NCAA Tournament 10 times in the last 13 years. The 2005 squad, with a 12-5-1 record, was defeated in the first round of the 2005 tournament by Boston College 2-1 in Storrs, Conn.

The Women's NCAA Championship Tournament consists of 64 teams, 30 of which were conference winners. The other 34 teams were picked at large by the NCAA Division I Women's Soccer Committee.

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