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Women's soccer team heads to NCAA tourney

Nov. 13, 1998



The women's soccer team sadly returned from their stay on cloud nine last Friday night after losing 3-2 to the University of Missouri Tigers. Coach Randy Waldrum, whose team was riding a nine-game winning streak, suggested that the loss may have been a blessing in disguise.

'The kids were really down after Friday's loss,' Waldrum said at Monday's media luncheon. 'I think, in hindsight, you never like to lose, but maybe it will be a good thing for us. It brings us back to reality.'

The Bears will 'face reality' while trying to extend their season Sunday in the NCAA soccer tournament. The tournament began on Wednesday, but the Bears, making their first tournament appearance, were among the top 16 teams awarded a first-round bye. The time off was beneficial to the team's injury situation.

'The time off helped us a lot,' Waldrum said in a recent interview. 'We have been banged up the last three weeks and the rest helped with Juli Goin (an ankle injury) and Julie Larson (an eye injury).'

With the Missouri loss, the Bears' record fell to 15-4-1 overall, but they were still able to take over the No. 17 spot in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll. In addition to the team's success this season, Waldrum was named conference coach of the year.

'It is always nice to be recognized, but I think it is more for the whole coaching staff,' Waldrum said. 'Keri (Riley) and Rebecca (Hornbacher), have done a great job all season.'

The Bears will face the No. 20 Northwestern University Wildcats at 2 p.m. on Sunday at the Baylor Soccer Complex. The Wildcats, a member of the Big 10 Conference, are making their second appearance ever in the NCAA tournament. They advanced to the second round after beating the Missouri Valley Conference champions, Evansville University, 2-1 Wednesday in double overtime. The Wildcats outshot the Purple Aces 19-14 en route to the victory.

'The game will be an interesting matchup,' Waldrum said. 'They are a lot different than us. They are bigger and a lot more physical than most of the teams we have played. They have a couple of players who have carried the load for them.'

The Wildcats bring a productive lineup to Waco. They are led in scoring by sophomore forward Brooke Bell, who has seven goals, and senior defender Kristen Palmer, who has nine assists.

If the Bears were to beat the Wildcats, they would most likely face the No. 3 team in the country and No. 2 seed in the tournament, the University of Florida Gators in Gainesville, Fla., next week. The Gators would obviously be a challenge for the Bears.

'Honestly, if we can get past the first game, that's fine by me,' Waldrum said at the press conference. 'I would rather be going to Florida than playing in snow in Connecticut or going up to Penn State playing in the snow. We take both possibilities, but we are very excited. Now we are getting prepared for Sunday.'

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