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Blue Raiders head to Tallahassee to begin NCAA Tournament

First-ever meeting set with Florida State

November 8, 2010 · Athletic Communications

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Sun Belt Tournament champion Middle Tennessee soccer team will begin its NCAA Tournament quest when it travels to Tallahassee, Fla., Friday to face No. 15 Florida State on the Seminoles' home field, the Seminole Soccer Complex. Game time is set for 3:30 p.m. Central.

The Blue Raiders, who own a 13-8-2 record, will be competing in their first NCAA Tournament after receiving the Sun Belt's automatic bid following Saturday's 0-0 tie and 3-2 penalty kick advancement past No. 15 Denver in the conference championship.

Middle Tennessee has had a remarkable turnaround to its season after starting the year 3-7. The Blue Raiders have put together a consecutive game streak of 15 matches, during which they have held opponents to a goal or less per game. MT has won 10 of its last 13 games, with only one loss during the stretch as part of its rise to second in the regular-season Sun Belt standings.

Junior goalkeeper Rebecca Cushing was named the Sun Belt Tournament Most Valuable Player after allowing just two goals in 310 minutes for a 0.58 goals-against average with 14 saves and an 87.5 save percentage. Her most important stops came in the penalty kick situations, helping the Blue Raiders advance past host Western Kentucky in the semifinals and Denver in the title game.

Sophomore Paige Goeglein tallied the winning PK after both games and she was one of three Middle Tennessee players, joining senior Fran Howells and classmate Whitney Jorgenson, as the only three players to connect on their respective penalty kick shots in both games.

Five Blue Raiders garnered All-Sun Belt Tournament Team accolades, a conference high. Cushing, Howells, Jorgenson, senior Vanessa Mueggler and redshirt sophomore Regina Thomas represented middle Tennessee.

Howells, Mueggler and Thomas were named to the All-Sun Belt First Team following the regular season, while Jorgenson was the team's lone representative on the Second Team.

Head coach Aston Rhoden is in his ninth season at the helm of the program, garnering a school-record 107 wins entering the NCAA Tournament. He picked up win No. 100 when the Blue Raiders defeated UALR in Little Rock, Ark., Oct. 3.

Florida State brings a 13-5-1 record to the match and finished in a three-way tie for second in the ACC standings after posting a 7-2-1 mark. The Seminoles were seeded fourth and dropped their first round game to No. 5 seed and eventual tournament champion Wake Forest.

Head coach Mark Krikorian directs the program; however, he will not be on the sidelines for Friday's match due to a suspension. Janice Cayman paces the offensive attack with nine goals and 23 points, followed by Tori Huster with six scores and 17 points.

Kelsey Wys has been FSU's primary goalkeeper, surrendering just 11 goals in over 1644 minutes for a 0.60 goals-against average.

Friday's match will be the first meeting between the two schools. It will mark the third Atlantic Coast Conference opponent on this year's schedule for Middle Tennessee, as it faced North Carolina and Duke in the Duke Nike Classic in mid-September.

The other match in Tallahassee Friday pits USF against Auburn. The winners of the two contests will play in the Second Round Sunday, also at the Seminole Soccer Complex.

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