COLLEGE PARK, Md. (CBS) — For the first time in program history, the La Salle women’s soccer team has qualified for the NCAA Tournament.  With a record of 15-1-3, La Salle will open the tourney tonight on the road as they visit Maryland.

La Salle had been undefeated until they were stunned by UMass in the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament, on November 4th, 1-0.

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Losing in the conference tourney clouded the Explorers’ NCAA tournament fate just a bit because they couldn’t earn the A-10’s automatic bid.  But head coach Paul Royal says he thought they still had done enough to get the at-large call.

“Yeah, I thought so.  We had some quality wins, and going in prior to that we were 19 RPI, dropped down to 28.   But with a lot of the BCS conference schools beating up on each other, we kept building our résumé up.  So I felt pretty good, but until it actually happens you are never sure,” he said.

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Maryland brings a 10-5-4 record into the tournament, and Royal says they are formidable.

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“They are going to be a really athletic team.  They have some national team level players.  I think personally we match up very well athletically with them.  But it’s just going to come down to that experience of being in the NCAA Tournament, and the atmosphere.  I know it’s going to be very hostile down there.  We’ve heard reports already that the fans are rowdy.  But it’s going to be great.  It really is.”

La Salle will look to continue their phenomenal defensive play in this one.  The Explorers have allowed just seven goals for the season, and they were the last team in the country, men’s or women’s,  to get scored on this season (12th game).

La Salle and Maryland haven’t met since 1993.  The Terrapins lead the all-time series, 4-1-1.

The winner here will play the winner of the #3 seed Auburn-Utah State match.

First kick tonight set for 6:00pm.

Reported by Matt Leon, KYW Newsradio 1060

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