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UT womens soccer gets No. 1 Notre Dame

The University of Toledo didn t have to wait long to see its name flash across the screen during the NCAA women s soccer tournament selection show last night. When UT s name appeared, though, it took a few seconds before the cheering began.

The Rockets will face No. 1 Notre Dame on Friday in South Bend. The Fighting Irish, 21-0-0, are the top overall seed in the tournament. A start time has not been announced.

In what has become a standing tradition the last three years, the team and some of its supporters met at Ralphie s Sports Eatery to watch the selection show on ESPN News, and UT s game was the first announced. Learning who their opponent would be was a little tough to take for the three-time defending Mid-American Conference champion Rockets.

A little bit unfortunate, a little disappointing, I think, junior forward Molly Cornwell said. I feel a little disrespected.

According to the NCAA s Web site, the 64-team tournament is seeded with proximity being a big factor. Michigan State and Wisconsin-Milwaukee will play in the other match on Friday.

All the teams going to South Bend are pretty close by, and we just got the lucky end of that deal, UT coach Brad Evans said.

After the initial shock wore off, the Rockets applauded their selection, which came courtesy of earning the MAC s automatic bid.

We re on a high right now, and that selection doesn t change that, senior defender Laura Mecklenborg said. I definitely think we re playing well. We ve really hit our peak here, just at the right time. Who knows what will happen?

UT, 16-4-1, is unbeaten in its last 11 matches. The Rockets have never played a No. 1-ranked team.

We want to be regarded as one of the elite teams in the country, Evans said. It s an opportunity and an honor, and we re going to go out and do the best we can.

The Rockets hope to build on their last two appearances in the NCAA tournament, when they were knocked out in the first round. In 2006, they lost to Villanova 5-1, and in 2007, they fell to Indiana 3-2 in double overtime.

We know what it s like, we know what it takes, Cornwell said. This team is all about a challenge. What better than to bring the best team to us?

Contact Maureen Fulton at:mfulton@theblade.comor 419-724-6160.

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