May 6, 2012

WD1 Tournament Bracket: Florida Reaches Another First

Kitty Cullen and Florida knocked off Northwestern twice in two weeks, the latter coming Saturday in the ALC Championship, to help the Gators earn the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Division I women's tournament.
© John Strohsacker/ 

by Corey McLaughlin | | TwitterFull Bracket (PDF)

NCAA Brackets: MD1 | WD1 | MD2 | WD2 | MD3 | WD3
Analysis: MD1 | WD1 | MD2 | WD2 | MD3 | WD3

Florida, in its three seasons a varsity program, has wasted no time reaching milestones and impressive program firsts. On Sunday, the Gators achieved another. They earned the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Division I women's tournament.

The Gators finished the season 17-2, most recently knocking off Northwestern 14-7 in the ALC championship game on Saturday. It was Florida's second win over the Wildcats in two weeks and solidified its spot as the top-ranked team in the bracket. The Gators host Albany in the first round.

"It's a proud moment for all of us," head coach Amanda O'Leary said. "I think these young women worked really, really hard for this, and just to see their name at the No. 1 seed says a lot about our program and certainly where we're headed."

Northwestern is the second seed in the 16-team tournament, followed by ACC champion Maryland. Syracuse, which lost to Loyola at home in the Big East final on Saturday, is the highest-ranked at-large team in the field, seeded fourth. The Orange will host Dartmouth on Sunday.

North Carolina, Loyola, Duke and Towson are seeds five through eight. The Tar Heels and Blue Devils were among three ACC squads to grab at-large bids. Notre Dame, Penn and Penn State were the other at-large selections.

There are a variety of compelling first round matchups. In a Midwest battle, Northwestern hosts Notre Dame. Penn State, in its second season under coach Missy Doherty, makes its first tournament appearance since 2005 and travels to Towson, the team Doherty coached before leaving for State College. Meanwhile, Duke and Virginia will have an all-ACC first-rounder.

Five teams made the 16-team field via automatic qualifying bids by winning conference tournaments: Albany (America East), Florida (ALC), Maryland (ACC), Loyola (Big East) and Dartmouth (Ivy). Three play-in games were also held over the weekend. On Saturday, Patriot League champion Navy downed MPSF winner Oregon in overtime and Towson (CAA) beat Monmouth (Northeast). And earlier on Selection Sunday, UMass (Atlantic-10) won a thriller over Canisius (MAAC) on a free position goal with four seconds left in regulation.

After this weekend's first-round games, quarterfinals will be held May 19 or 20, followed by the national semifinals May 25 at Stony Brook's LaValle Stadium. The championship game is set for 8 p.m. on Saturday May 27 and will be shown live on ESPNU.

NCAA Division I Women's Tournament First-Round Games

Saturday, May 12 (All Times Eastern)

Navy (18-2) at No. 5 North Carolina (14-3), Noon
Albany (12-5) at No. 1 Florida (17-2), 1 p.m.
UMass (19-1) at No. 3 Maryland (17-3), 2 p.m.
Penn State (11-6) at No. 8 Towson (16-3), 3 p.m.

Sunday, May 13

Penn at No. 6 Loyola (13-5), 1 p.m.
Virginia (11-7) at No. 7 Duke (11-6), 2 p.m.
Dartmouth (12-4) at No. 4 Syracuse (16-3), 4 p.m.
Notre Dame (13-4) at No. 2 Northwestern (17-2), 4 p.m.

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