The bracket for the 2011 NCAA Women's Soccer Championship was announced on Monday and the Kentucky Wildcats were among the first teams to hear their names called. This is the first time the Wildcats have earned an NCAA berth since 2006.
In just his third season as head coach, Jon Lipsitz has led a team that was 5-12-2 the year before his arrival to the pinnacle of the sport. Even though they were No. 17 in the RPI and relatively certain they would reach the tournament, seeing "Kentucky" on the screen was a rewarding moment.
"It's an incredibly exciting moment even though we've known for a few weeks that this was the position we were putting ourselves in," Lipsitz said. "To see your name up there means a lot."
UK (13-7-0) will play host to the Washington State Cougars (12-6-3), marking the first time the Wildcats have earned the right to host an NCAA Tournament game since 1996.
"One of our huge goals as we started realizing this is an NCAA season was we wanted to host," Lipsitz said. "And I think, from the top to the bottom, our administrators, our fans, our players and our families deserve that."
UK was not expected to advance to this point so early in Lipsitz's tenure, but the team sensed something special building early in the season when the Cats picked up victories in a pair of tournaments in Louisville, Ky., and Lexington, Ky.
"I don't think there were a lot of people outside this group that believed we were going to be sitting here talking to you today about an NCAA bid," Lipsitz said. "Supposedly we weren't there yet and we weren't ready, but we felt something else this entire season."
There is a significant sense of accomplishment associated with simply reaching the tournament,
"Right now the important thing is for us all is to take a moment to enjoy what we've developed here and everything we've done, but also to understand that the work starts tomorrow morning," Lipsitz said. "It takes a lot of work to not only make this tournament, but to win it. We plan to be ready on Saturday night.
We'll have more coverage of UK's trip to the NCAA Tournament as the week goes on, but enjoy the below video of the team (celebration starts at the 35-second mark learning they made the tournament and Lipsitz's comments at the top of the post.