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Jeff Kolpack, Published November 09 2010

NCAA Division I Women's Soccer Tournament: Bison draw Aggies

The weather forecast for Minneapolis on Friday calls for mostly cloudy skies and a high of 46 degrees. The North Dakota State women’s soccer team wouldn’t mind snow, wind and a high in single digits.

“We can handle that, we’re from Fargo,” said senior Marissa Wolfgram.

The Bison got what they wanted Monday when the NCAA tournament pairings were announced. They’ll play Texas A&M, 15-4-2, in the first round at the University of Minnesota, a place that is very familiar to the players and coaches.

NDSU, 12-5-5, has 14 players from the state of Minnesota, has played the Gophers in previous years and plays a spring tournament there every year. It will be the fifth time an NDSU athletic program has reached a Division I NCAA tournament in just over two years of being eligible.

“This is a big jump for North Dakota State and the soccer program,” Wolfgram said.

NDSU previously reached the NCAA tourney in softball twice, volleyball and men’s basketball. This appearance came with a little irony after head coach Pete Cuadrado received an e-mail congratulatory message earlier in the day from NDSU President Dean Bresciani on the Summit League title.

Bresciani came to NDSU from Texas A&M.

“That crossed my mind,” Cuadrado said.

NDSU is one of eight teams in the Maryland Regional. The NDSU-A&M winner plays the winner of Minnesota-Creighton to advance. Game times have not been announced.

Wolfgram, from Champlin, Minn., went to a few Gopher games as a kid. She said Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium is about as close as a home field advantage NDSU could get outside of Ellig Sports Complex. The Bison had partisan support when they played at Minnesota in 2008.

Asked if playing in Minneapolis was the best scenario he could have hoped for, Cuadrado said, “By far, I couldn’t have asked for more. I thought we would be going on a plane somewhere.”

The Bison qualified for the NCAA by winning the Summit tournament on Sunday and earning the conference’s automatic berth. The top 16 teams were seeded and conference teams are not allowed to play each other in the first two rounds.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the Saturday Morning Sports Show, 9-11 a.m. on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia