Ky Snyder took a long, sweeping look at the well-groomed, Bull’s Eye Bermuda grass field covering Torero Stadium. While he was happy with the shape the field was in, he noted one flaw — football line marks were still visible. Perhaps, he reasoned, those lines would disappear with additional care this week.
If Snyder’s mindset is about perfection, it’s understandable: the NCAA Women’s College Cup features the top four women’s soccer college teams — Florida State, Penn State, North Carolina and Stanford — playing for national supremacy. There are two semifinal games Friday (Florida State-Penn State live at 5:30 p.m., ESPN3; North Carolina-Stanford live at 8 p.m., ESPNU) and the 2012 national champion will be decided Sunday (1 p.m. ESPNU). The spotlight, however, is equally on the University of San Diego.
“The national collegiate focus will be on USD this weekend,” said Snyder, USD’s executive director of athletics. “This is the top [event] the NCAA has to offer, the best four teams in the country are coming to play here in San Diego. It’s a big deal to have three nationally televised games at Torero Stadium and to showcase the campus and the university. Those are marketing advertising dollars that we couldn’t spend.”
“I was watching some of the Florida-Florida State football game and on that broadcast they talked about Florida State coming to San Diego and the University of San Diego hosting the national championship for soccer. That kind of commentary is going on across the country that this will be the focus of the soccer community this weekend,” he said.
This is USD’s first opportunity to host a national championship event. The private, Roman Catholic university, which has nearly 8,000 undergraduate and graduate and law students, has hosted NCAA regionals for volleyball, soccer and golf. Construction on Fowler Park, the new home ballpark for USD baseball, will open in February. One of the priorities of the new stadium, Snyder said, is to have the ability to host NCAA baseball regionals.
Torero Stadium, home to USD’s football and men and women’s soccer, has also hosted Major League Soccer exhibition games for the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA, the U.S. women’s national soccer team and was home to the now-defunct WUSA pro women’s soccer team, the San Diego Spirit. Nevertheless, when Friday’s semifinals arrive — Florida State and Penn State meet at 5:30 p.m. and Stanford and North Carolina follow at 8 p.m. — it’ll be the culmination of a year of preparation by USD to make the College Cup a reality.
“This has been an extraordinary effort by our athletic department staff to host the College Cup and a great effort across campus with Public Safety, Parking, Special Events and Catering. Everybody on campus has been involved in some capacity. This is a community event and it’s built to showcase the community as a whole,” Snyder said.
The three games won’t be the sole attraction. Those in attendance can also participate in NCAA Women’s College Cup Fan Fest activities two hours prior to the games Friday and Sunday.
“Everyone is super excited,” USD women’s soccer coach Ada Greenwood said last month. “You can’t imagine it until it gets here, but we’re excited that our city and our university will see how special it is to host the College Cup.”
That time has arrived, both for the teams competing for a national title and for the University of San Diego, which is ready for its national close-up.
— Ryan T. Blystone