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Ole Miss, Alabama part of record nine SEC teams to NCAAs


From Special Reports



The Southeastern Conference earned a record nine bids Monday to the 64-team field for the 36th NCAA Division I Women's Soccer Championship. 


The nine NCAA tournament bids leads all conferences. The Atlantic Coast Conference earned eight bids, while the Pacific-12 Conference had seven and the Big Ten Conference and Big 12 Conference had five. 


South Carolina earned a No. 1 national seed, while Texas A&M is a No. 2 seed and Florida is a No. 3 seed. Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Ole Miss, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt also earned bids. 


Mississippi State (9-5-4), Missouri, LSU, Kentucky, and Georgia didn't earn NCAA tournament bids. 


The nine selections eclipse the previous record of eight, which was accomplished in 2011 and 2014. It is the 10th time in the last 11 seasons the SEC has had at least six teams advance to postseason play. 


Five of the nine teams earned the right to serve as hosts for their opening-round matches. South Carolina will play host to Alabama State, Lamar will play at Texas A&M, South Alabama will visit Florida, Hofstra will travel to Auburn, and Murray State will play at Tennessee. 


Alabama will play at Clemson at 6 p.m. Friday, while Ole Miss will play at No. 4 seed Florida State at 6 p.m. Friday. Arkansas will visit North Carolina State, and Vanderbilt will take on No. 4 seed Ohio State. 


Ole Miss (10-6-3) returns to NCAA play after a one-year absence. In 2015, Ole Miss advanced to the third round of the NCAA tournament. Overall, it is the seventh NCAA tournament appearance for Ole Miss. 


Ole Miss is 4-6 all-time in the NCAA tournament. In 2015, it defeated Murray State and then-No. 7 Clemson. 


Florida State is no stranger to Ole Miss. The two sides faced each other in the NCAA tournament in 2002 and 2013. 


Alabama (12-7-1) will make its third NCAA tournament appearance, and first since 2011. The Crimson Tide's 12 wins are the most victories recorded in a season since 2002. 


"I am totally excited for the players," Alabama coach Wes Hart said. "They have worked tremendously hard for this moment. Dating back to two years ago when I took this group over, with all the struggles and growing pains and ups and downs, for us to be able to celebrate this is pretty exciting." 




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