Big East Playoff: WVU vs. USF

The No. 1-seeded West Virginia men's soccer team will face No. 4-seeded South Florida in the Big East quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Saturday at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium in Morgantown.

The Bulls (8-5-4) earned the right to play the Mountaineers (14-1-2) after they defeated No. 5-seeded Seton Hall, 5-1, at home on Wednesday evening. Junior midfielder Rodrigo Hidalgo led USF to its win as he scored a pair of goals in the victory.

WVU tied South Florida, 2-2, in the regular season in Tampa on Sept. 15. USF took an early 1-0 lead on a Hidalgo goal in the eighth minute, but goals by Reed Cooper and Jyler Noviello in the 32nd and 33rd minutes, respectively, gave the Mountaineers the lead at half. The game seemed to be on its way to a West Virginia win until Simon Shoendorf knotted the match at 2-2 with three minutes remaining in regulation.

The Mountaineers enter the 2006 BIG EAST tournament with their first-ever No. 1 seed. WVU's highest previous seed was third in 1999 when the team lost 2-1 to No. 6-seeded Syracuse in Morgantown. Last season West Virginia entered the tournament as the Blue Division's fourth seed and earned a 1-0 win over the Red Division's fifth-seeded Rutgers at home.

This 2006 postseason seeding marks the Mountaineers' fifth appearance in the Big East tournament since joining the conference in 1995. West Virginia will look to get back over .500 in the conference's postseason play this year as it currently holds a 2-4 record in those matches. This year's group of seniors, juniors and sophomores are the only Mountaineer players to ever win a Big East tourney game as both wins have come in the past two seasons. The team upset No. 2-seeded St. John's, 1-0, on the road in 2004 and upended Rutgers, 1-0, in overtime last season in Morgantown.

West Virginia advanced to the tournament's semifinals once before losing to Connecticut, 1-0, in 2004. The final two rounds of the tournament were held at Rutgers' Yurcak Field – where they will be this season – as well that year. Note: West Virginia set a new school record in single-game attendance with 2,000-plus in its 2-1 win over then-No. 6 Notre Dame earlier this season. If the Mountaineers can duplicate that crowd, first year head coach Marlon LeBlanc said that the home field would become "a fortress for us. I can't say enough about the crowd, and I would like to express my gratitude to the fans."

This will be the lone Big East tournament game played at Dlesk Stadium, as the semifinals and finals are at Rutgers. Fans are encouraged to attend, as a win over South Florida - a very talented team that was the lone league squad to manage even a tie against WVU - and in the semifinals could cement a top four NCAA ranking, guaranteeing WVU home field throughout the NCAA playoffs until the national Final Four/College Cup in St. Louis.

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