Notre Dame earns fifth seed in NCAA Tournament
By KEVIN BERCHOU
The road to the NCAA soccer championships in San Jose, Calif., will be a bit tougher than anticipated for the Notre Dame women.
While the Irish were hoping to be assigned one of the top four seeds, which would have ensured home field advantage through the quarterfinals, the Irish instead are seeded fifth, meaning they will potentially face a tough quarterfinal opponent on the road.
Undefeated Santa Clara, which bested Notre Dame in a game played earlier this season, is seeded first, followed by North Carolina, defending champion Florida and Nebraska.
It is the decision to seed Nebraska ahead of the Irish that some people are questioning.
"I thought maybe we were a little better than them," said Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum. "But you can never know how the selection committee thinks."
Coach Waldrum was quick to note that he was not entirely disappointed in not being seeded among the top four.
"I have mixed feelings," he added. " We were a little disappointed at not being fourth, because having played both Santa Clara and North Carolina, I thought our schedule may have been tougher than [Nebraska's]. On the other hand, I like our draw."
The draw to which Waldrum refers has the Irish, who like the rest of the top 16 seeds have a first round bye, taking on the winner of the game played between Dayton and Evansville Wednesday night. The winner will play the Irish, at Alumni Field, in a game to be contested this weekend.
Though the Irish will likely play a quarterfinal game on the road in Nebraska, a Cornhusker in the second or third round loss would give Notre Dame home-field advantage through the quarterfinal round of play.
"We can't look too far ahead," said Waldrum. "We need to focus on our game this weekend."
The seeding for the tournament is done in an somewhat objective manner. The field consists of 48 teams, 24 of which have received automatic bids, with the remainder being tabbed by the selection committee. When drawing up the brackets, the committee considers factors such as win-loss record, strength of schedule, and record against common opponents. Opinions of the committee members do come into the decisions.
Though it's not certain why the Irish were not included among the top four seeds, it's likely the committee thought Nebraska's record that featured but one loss carried more weight that the Notre Dame's difficult schedule that saw the Irish lose three games.
"We have to live with it," said Coach Waldrum. "We'll be getting ready to play this weekend."
All Sports Stories for Tuesday, November 9, 1999