By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – For the third straight season, the La Salle women’s soccer team has qualified for the NCAA Tournament. After winning a second straight Atlantic 10 title, the Explorers drew Georgetown in the first round and the two teams will meet on Saturday afternoon.
“It’s been great for the girls,” La Salle head coach Paul Royal tells KYW Newsradio. “I didn’t think it would be just as sweet, winning a second A-10 Championship, but the fashion that we did it, penalty kicks in a shootout (over Dayton) was pretty special for the kids.”
While the Explorers have plenty of experience of getting to the tournament, they have yet to pick up a win. In 2011, they lost in the first round to Maryland and then last season Virginia took them out in the opening round. The last three years represent the only NCAA berths in program history, and Royal says they are hungry not to be “one and done” this season.
“We have one of the best senior classes in the country,” Royal says. “These kids have been there, they know what to expect. It’s not just we’re happy to be at the NCAA Tournament anymore. It’s been one of our goals the last two years now to win an NCAA Tournament game.”
La Salle brings a 15-4-3 record into Saturday’s game. Georgetown is 15-2-2 and Royal says this should be an outstanding match-up.
“They are one of the best attacking teams in the country,” Royal says. “I think they are probably top-five in scoring. We’re one of the top 10 or 15 teams on defense. I think we have the best center-back in the country in (senior) Courtney Niemiec. And we have two attackers right now (Kelsey Haycook and Renee Washington) who are really making some history at La Salle. Both of them tied the all-time scoring record (40 career goals). It’s a real good match-up for us. Both teams are really hungry to get (Virginia/St. Francis winner) in the second round and we’ll see how things go.”
Saturday’s first-round game will be played in Washington D.C. and get underway at 1:00pm.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.