Minnesota to host NCAA opening rounds

The Minnesota soccer team will be among the 64 teams to compete in this yearâÄôs NCAA championship, the NCAA Division I WomenâÄôs Soccer Committee announced Monday. The team learned of the news via e-mail following an ESPN selection show that laid out the tournament bracket. Notre Dame was chosen as the No. 1 overall seed in a tournament field that included Big Ten schools Michigan State, Penn State and Illinois in addition to the Gophers. Minnesota will host Marquette in the first round of the tournament, which gets underway Friday. South Dakota State and Colorado will also compete on the GophersâÄô home field this weekend. The Buffaloes are the top-ranked seed to play at Minnesota. This season marks the GophersâÄô first NCAA tournament appearance since 1999. That postseason run ended in a crushing 5-0 loss to Nebraska in the second round of the tournament . Gophers head coach Mikki Denney Wright said the team is very fortunate to be among the 64 teams chosen to compete. âÄúThereâÄôs a lot of good teams left out,âÄù she said. âÄúItâÄôs great. ItâÄôs something [the team has] worked very hard for.âÄù Minnesota is undefeated at home this season , which raises the question as to whether hosting the first round of the tournament will give the team a considerable advantage. âÄúWe have great fan support,âÄù Denney Wright said. âÄúWeâÄôre obviously very comfortable on our own field.âÄù The Gophers have the third-highest average attendance record in the Big Ten at 922 fans per gam e. âÄúHopefully we get a lot of people that are out there on Friday night and Sunday supporting us,âÄù Denney Wright said. Though the Gophers were defeated in the championship game of the Big Ten tournament this past weekend, the team boasts a 20-2-0 regular season record. âÄúWe deserve it,âÄù Denney Wright said on the opportunity to compete. âÄúNow weâÄôre set on having our best performance possible in the tournament.âÄù The Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium is a $2.1 million facility located on the St. Paul campus, opening in 1999.