Special to The Sun
Central Oklahoma earned an at-large bid into the NCAA Division II Women’s Soccer Championship Monday night, with the Bronchos set to compete in the Central Regional II Tournament in Mankato, Minn.
Six teams in eight regionals around the country make up the 48-team national field, with UCO the No. 3 seed in the Central Region.
The Bronchos, 15-2-3 on the year and regular season runners-up in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association, will face league rival and sixth-seeded Fort Hays State (14-6-1) at 1 p.m. Friday in the first round of the regional. The winner advances to face No. 2 seed Minnesota State-Mankato (16-1-2) Sunday.
The Central Regional I Tournament will be held in Warrensburg, Mo., with fourth-seeded Southwestern Oklahoma (19-0-1) taking on No. 5 Minot State (15-3-3) Friday. The winter of that game will go against top-seeded Central Missouri on Sunday.
The Central Regional I and II winners meet the following weekend at a site to be determined.
“We’re excited about getting back to the national tournament and are looking forward to this weekend,” UCO coach Mike Cook said. “We know we face a great challenge against Fort Hays State, but it’s good that we get another chance at them after last week.”
The Tigers eliminated the Bronchos from last week’s MIAA Tournament semifinals, winning 2-1 in double overtime en route to winning that title and earning the league’s automatic berth in the national playoffs. UCO won the regular season meeting 2-0.
The Bronchos are making their ninth Division II playoff appearance since 2000, including the second straight and third in four years.