The Nebraska soccer team has worked its way into the NCAA Tournament “bubble,” and a chance to separate from the pack looms.
Should the Huskers defeat No. 6 Michigan State in a Big Ten Tournament semifinal Thursday, it would help Nebraska’s chances of cracking the 64-team field “dramatically,” says coach John Walker.
Nebraska and Michigan State will play for a spot in the conference championship at 1 p.m. Thursday in Columbus, Ohio.
As it stands, the Huskers are ranked No. 52 in Rating Percentage Index (RPI), a key metric used in determining the NCAA field. But, of course, there are more teams than spots.
“There are probably several, several teams that are right next to us to get into the NCAA Tournament, you know, but it’s really tough to gauge,” Walker said. “This gives us another opportunity to help us in our push to try and get into the NCAA Tournament.
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The Spartans are no easy task. Michigan State trots out five super-seniors in its starting lineup. Nebraska has just one senior on its entire roster, and its top goal scorer, Sarah Weber (10 goals this season), is only a sophomore.
Five Huskers have scored at least two goals this season, and three of them are sophomores.
What Nebraska lacks in experience, it’s making up for on the fly in a rugged league that has four teams with RPIs in the nation’s top 25.
“They’ve done a good job and develop quickly,” Walker said. “They want to learn and they have an enthusiasm about them, which I think is really refreshing.”
Nebraska is playing in its first conference tournament since 2018 and has failed to qualify for the annual event six times in the last eight years. The Huskers last made the national tournament in 2016.