Eight-time Big Ten Women's Soccer Champs to Host 2006 Conference Tournament
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; June 6, 2006 - The eight-time Big Ten champion Penn State women's soccer team announced its 2006 schedule Tuesday, which features seven teams ranked in the 2005 final poll including national finalist UCLA and 11th-ranked Texas A&M. National semifinalists in 2005, the Lions ranked No. 2 in the final poll last year after compiling a 23-0-2 record.
For the second straight year, the Nittany Lions will begin the year by hosting the Penn State Invitational. This season, UCLA, Tennessee and regional rival Maryland will all be part of the four-team tournament that will be held on Aug. 25 and 27. Action on the 25th begins with the Terrapins and Lady Vols at 5 p.m. followed by the tournament's pair of 2005 College Cup participants, Penn State and UCLA at 7:30 p.m. The Bruins meet Maryland at noon on Sunday, Aug. 27, before Penn State and Tennessee complete the tournament with their 2:30 p.m. contest. The match-up will be the first between the Lady Vols and Nittany Lions.
On Sept. 1 and 3, Penn State goes back to Texas, site of the last two College Cups in which the Lions participated. On Sept. 1 the Lions head to Austin, site of the 2002 College Cup, to meet the Longhorns at 1:30 p.m. for the first meeting between the two schools before traveling to College Station, where Penn State made its 2005 College Cup appearance. The Lions meet Texas A&M at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 3. Penn State beat the Aggies in 2005, 4-1, in University Park last fall to move on to the NCAA quarterfinals for the seventh time in the past eight years.
On Friday, Sept. 8, Penn State returns to the friendly confines of Jeffrey Field, a place the Lions have won 52 of their last 53 games. At 1 p.m., the Lions meet another 2005 NCAA opponent in West Virginia before taking on regional rival Bucknell at 7 p.m. on Sun., Sept. 10, also at Jeffrey Field.
Tournament-bound again, Penn State heads north to the Harvard Invitational where it will meet the host Crimson on Friday, Sept. 15, at 1:30 p.m. and Northeastern at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 17.
The Big Ten slate kicks-off at Jeffrey Field on Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. when Penn State meets Michigan State. The Lions are the eight-time defending conference champions and gone undefeated in the Big Ten the past two seasons. The Michigan Wolverines come to town on Sunday, Sept. 24 for a noon tilt before Penn State's first Big Ten road trip of the season to Iowa (Sept. 29, 7 p.m.) and Illinois (Oct. 1, 1:00 p.m.). The road stint continues for the Lions with an Oct. 6 game at Purdue at 4 p.m. and an Oct. 8 contest at Indiana beginning at noon.
The road-warriors return to University Park for a four-game Big Ten stretch starting on Friday, Oct. 13, at 7 p.m. vs. Minnesota. Penn State and Ohio State wage interstate war on Sunday, Oct. 15 at 1 p.m. with Big Ten contests vs. Wisconsin (Oct. 20, 5 p.m.) and Northwestern (Oct. 22, Noon) rounding out the conference schedule.
A non-conference match at the Naval Academy on Thursday, Oct. 26, at 7 p.m. closes-out the regular season schedule.
Penn State will play host to the 2006 Big Ten Tournament, welcoming the tournament back to Happy Valley for the first time since 1999. The Nittany Lions are looking for their fourth tournament title in the program's 12-year history.
NCAA play begins on Nov. 10-12 with the first and second rounds being held at campus sites. NCAA third round games will also be played on campus sites either Nov. 17, 18 or 19, with campuses hosting the NCAA quarterfinals on either Nov. 24, 25, or 26. The 2006 NCAA College Cup will be held in Cary, N.C. at SAS Soccer Park on Dec. 1 and 3.
"I am extremely excited about our 2006 schedule," said Penn State head coach and 2005 NSCAA Coach of the Year Paula Wilkins. "We will again have the honor of hosting the Big Ten Tournament, an event that brought so much buzz to our campus in 1999, and also will host a top-notch non-conference tournament the first weekend of our season. We will as always meet top quality teams in conference play as well as throughout the remainder of our non-conference schedule."
No. 2 Penn State finished is coming off an outstanding 23-0-2 campaign with its highest final ranking ever. The Lions made their third College Cup in 2005, playing eventual champion Portland to a scoreless tie in the semifinals but failing to advance on penalty kicks. The Lions' final rank marked the ninth consecutive year Penn State has finished in the NSCAA's Top 10.