Bearcats Get No Love; For Second Straight Year, Bearcats Get No National Tournament Bid

SALEM: For the second straight year, the Willamette University women’s soccer team will not go to the NCAA Division III national tournament. Despite being ranked in the Top Ten all season (the Bearcats finish the season ranked No. 9), Willamette did not receive one of the at-large bids.

“It’s frustrating, especially for our seniors, to be left at home for the second year in a row,” said Head Coach Jim Tursi. “We did everything we could to get there. We had a better record than almost every team that made the tournament. We had a great season.”

UPS won the conference title with a 16-1-1 record, but the Bearcats (16-1-2) were the ones who beat UPS here in Salem and tied the Loggers on the road. The Bearcats only loss of the season came against Whitworth, the No. 21 ranked team in the country. A late season tie against Whitman cost the Bearcats a share of the NWC title.

“Give UPS credit. When we were tied for first late in the season, they ran the table. They didn’t stumble one bit and my hat is off to them. I wish them all the luck in the tournament,” said Tursi.

George Fox University Sports Information director Blair Cash notes that of the 10 at-large teams, only one (Chapman) came from the West. The Northwest Conference, despite being one of the top conferences in the country, did not get that second at-large bid. Of those ten at-large berths, not one of the teams selected had a better winning percentage than the Bearcats.

The Bearcats were ranked No. 2 in the West Region. NWC schools held four of the top five spots in the west region, and five of the top ten.

“I don’t know what else we could have done, except for win the conference title. And we surely gave it our best shot. If you had told me at the beginning of the season, we would lose only one time this season, I would take it. I just feel bad for our players. They’re the ones who really miss out,” said Tursi.

Aside from UPS, the Bearcats played one other team that made it to the tournament. Willamette defeated Lakeland (Wisc.), 5-0 in Salem early in the season.

“We’ll be back next year. But I sure do feel bad for my seniors,” said Tursi.