Cougar Women's Soccer Team Invited to NCAA Tournament - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather

Cougar Women's Soccer Team Invited to NCAA Tournament

By WSU Athletics

The Washington State University women's soccer team received an at-large bid to the 2012 NCAA Division I Championship, the NCAA announced, Monday.

The Cougars (12-6-1, 6-4-1 Pac-12) will play at Portland (11-4-4, 5-1-2 West Coast) in the first round at 7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 9.

This is the fourth NCAA postseason appearance in the last-five years for the Cougars, a first for the program. The recent success is one of the best stretches in women's athletics history at Washington State.

Cougar volleyball made five-straight NCAA Championship appearances (1993-97) and three-straight (2000-02). From 1998-2002, Cougar tennis appeared in four NCAA Championships. Washington State women's golf made six-consecutive NCAA regional appearances (2002-07). Cougar rowing was invited to the NCAA Championship three times from 2003-06.

"This hopefully starts to solidify us as a regular in the NCAAs, four of the last five years," Cougar Head Coach Keidane McAlpine said. "Keeping travel in this time zone gives us a chance to one, make sure our academics stay in focus, but, two, get the proper rest and preparation time. There's nothing like playing in front of great fans and great energy."

The Cougars finished tied for fourth in the Pac-12 and are one of six-conference schools in the tournament along with regular season champion Stanford and at-large bid recipients Arizona State, California, UCLA and Washington.

"It'll be nice to stay close (to home)," senior Mariah Cameron said. "I think everyone is very excited to get a chance to play Portland."

The Cougars are no strangers to the Pilots, as the two schools met in Portland, Ore., during the 2011 season. WSU also played in Portland against Texas during the 2008 NCAA First Round.

"It is nice to have played there last year, in a competitive game as well" junior Rachael Doyle said. "It's a great facility to play at."

Junior Micaela Castain leads Washington State with 11 goals, which ranks tied for second in the Pac-12. Castain is also tied for first in the conference with five game-winning goals and is tied for fourth with 23 points. Senior Brandi Vega and freshman Kourtney Guetlein have each recorded five assists which ranks them tied for fourth in the Pac-12. Vega is also ninth in points with 19 and tied for 10th with seven goals. Goalkeeper Gurveen Clair's 0.92 goals against average is third best in the Pac-12.