BATON ROUGE -- The 10th-ranked and No. 4 national seed LSU soccer team is set to compete in its third-straight NCAA Tournament this weekend as it plays host to Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the first round on Friday with kickoff slated for 7 p.m. CT at the LSU Soccer Complex.
The Tigers (14-4-4) received an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament for the third year in a row and will play host to the first and second rounds for the first time in program history.
The Baton Rouge Regional will also feature a first-round match between Big 12 Conference heavyweight Texas A&M and Conference USA Tournament champion Memphis on Friday at 4 p.m.
The winners of the two first-round matches will meet in the second round on Sunday at 1 p.m. The Tigers are one of 64 teams in this year’s field with an eye on advancing to the 2009 NCAA Women’s College Cup to be held at the Aggie Soccer Stadium in College Station, Texas, from Dec. 4-6.
LSU earned the right to compete in postseason play on the strength of winning its third-straight SEC West championship and finishing No. 2 in the final SEC standings with a school record 8-2-1 record and a total of 25 points in league play. The Tigers are also this year’s runners-up in the SEC Tournament.
“We’re excited to have the opportunity to host the NCAA Tournament right here in Baton Rouge and get a chance to compete against some of the best teams in the country,” said LSU head coach Brian Lee. “We look forward to a very competitive weekend. It will be a great experience for our team and a great chance for our fans to come out and enjoy the atmosphere.”
LSU has competed in the NCAA Tournament in each of the last two seasons, earning a spot in the second round in 2007 and competing in the first round in 2008.
The Tigers enter postseason play with a potent offensive attack led by the two-time SEC Offensive Player of the Year and three-time First-Team All-SEC performer Malorie Rutledge. A native of Sharpsburg, Ga., Rutledge has certainly shown the form that earned her consensus All-America honors a season ago with a career high 10 goals and 12 assists for 32 points this fall.
She is joined in the attack by fellow senior and Second-Team All-SEC midfielder Melissa Clarke, who is the team leader with 11 goals this season. LSU is one of just 12 teams nationwide with at least two double digit goal scorers as Clarke and Rutledge form one of the more dynamic duos in women’s college soccer.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff is making its first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament after capturing the title at the Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament on Sunday with a 1-0 win over Prairie View A&M.
The Lady Lions are led by a pair of double-digit goal scorers of their own as Jade West and Nicole Parks-Powell are tied for the team lead with 11 goals apiece. West is the team’s leading scorer in 2009 as with a total of 10 assists and 32 points on the season.
“We look forward to a great match tomorrow night with Arkansas-Pine Bluff. We know how special it is to compete in the NCAA Tournament for the first time, and they have certainly earned that right with the way they have performed this season,” Lee said. “We hope our fans will help us create an atmosphere that gives us the home-field advantage that is so important in NCAA Tournament play.”
Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online at LSUsports.net. Orders will be available for pickup at Will Call as seats at the LSU Soccer Complex are general admission.
Fans have the opportunity to purchase an All-Session Ticket for admission to all three games of the Baton Rouge Regional, including two first-round matches on Friday and one second-round match on Sunday. All-Session Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and $5 each with a group purchase of 10 or more.
Tickets for individual sessions are $6 for adults, $3 for students, $3 with a group purchase of 10 tickets or more and just $1 for youths ages 5 and under. Tickets for Session 1 are valid for both first-round matches on Friday, while tickets for Session 2 are valid only for Sunday’s second-round match.
Fans can also purchase tickets during business hours in person at the LSU Ticket Office or over the phone at 225-578-2184 or toll free at 1-800-960-8587.