The Catholic University women's soccer team, one of four undefeated programs in the country, will not have to travel far to make its NCAA Division III tournament debut.
The Cardinals, who won their first Capital Athletic Conference title this past weekend to improve to 18-0-2, will play Lynchburg (16-3-2) on Saturday in Newport News, Va., as part of a four-team subregional. The winner will face fourth-ranked Virginia Wesleyan (18-1-1) or host Christopher Newport (14-4-1) on Sunday.
"We're excited," Coach J.P. Sousa said yesterday. "We're just thrilled to be in the tournament for the first time. We'll play anybody anywhere. It's just a great opportunity for our program."
Each of the other undefeated teams -- Messiah (Pa.), College of New Jersey and Macalester (Minn.) -- received byes and will host second-round games in the 60-team tournament. Catholic, unranked and a tournament newcomer, did not expect to receive a bye.
The Cardinals, who had only six winning seasons in the previous 20 years of the program, have outscored opponents 77-10, capped by a 3-2 victory over York (Pa.) in the CAC final Saturday.
In the 64-team Division I tournament, seventh-ranked Virginia (15-5-1) received an at-large bid after losing to third-ranked North Carolina, 4-1, in the ACC championship game Sunday. The Cavaliers will be a No. 2 seed and play Liberty in the first round on Friday in Charlottesville.
-- Steven Goff