Women's Sectional Previews: American
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By BJ Pheasant
Middlebury (Middlebury, VT)
Saturday/Sunday, Nov. 18-19
Third Round - Saturday
Quarterfinals - Sunday
Sectional Final, 1:00 pm ET
How they reached the Sweet 16
2018 Statistical Overview
Middlebury Season Review
The Panthers are D3soccer.com’s No. 3 ranked team entering the tournament, the automatic qualifier (AQ) from the NESCAC beating defending national champion Williams in the conference title game. They made Sweet 16 in 2016 and round of 32 in 2017 while they reached the Final Four in 2013. They only graduated four players from the 2017 team and kept the top nine point scorers.
The 2018 season was successful on the field with only a loss at Williams during the regular season that was paid back with a win in the NESCAC finals. They played three NCAA tournament qualifiers with two of those advancing to the second weekend. The scoring output was consistent through the season with 47 goals, and 17 players involved with the process, while the defense allowed nine goals, but never more than one in a game.
In the NCAA tournament they beat Maine-Farmington 4-1 and outshot them 51-2, although the game was tied at one apiece for 13 minutes. In the second round against Ithaca they outshot them 23-6, however it was nil-nil through overtime. Penalty kick specialist goal keeper Eva Shaw came off the bench to deny Ithaca three times as Middlebury won 3-0 in PKs to advance. Shaw also came off the bench to earn a PK shootout win in the NESCAC semifinals with two saves.
Swarthmore Season Review
The Garnet are D3soccer.com’s No. 13 and the Centennial Conference AQ after rolling undefeated regular season Centennial Conference champions Johns Hopkins 5-1 in the title game. They last reached the Elite 8 in 2015 when these seniors were freshman and haven't been back to the second weekend till this year. They returned Centennial Player of the Year Marin McCoy and two other All-Conference players.
The 2018 season only had two losses on the season to Farmingdale State and Johns Hopkins. Both losses were to NCAA tournament participants out of the seven total they played during the season. The Garnet scored 54 goals on the season and allowed 11 with 10 shutouts. 20 players registered a goal or an assist on the season while Marin McCoy repeated as Player of the Year (14g, 7a, 9GWG).
In the NCAA tournament they defeated St. Joseph's (Maine) 5-1 while outshooting them 37-5. It was 4-1 at the half. In the second round they beat Virginia Wesleyan 3-0 outshooting them 21-5 and opened scoring in the 2nd minute of the game. In the second half it was a slow start allowing the opponents to have possession while they countered them into dangerous spaces, but lacked the final pass. In the 60th minute Marin McCoy had a brilliant individual effort on the left side to score upper 90 and make the final margin 3-0. A couple minutes later the Marlins almost passed the ball into their own net with a stray back pass towards the goal keeper that was fortunately run down short of the line. Swarthmore kept a firm grip on the game after that.
Hardin-Simmons Season Review
The Cowgirls are D3soccer.com’s No. 9 ranked team in the nation entering the tournament as the AQ from the American Southwest Conference. It is their 16th straight ASC title. They needed to replace ASC Offensive and Defensive PoY, Cami Jones and Kristen Parrish respectively, to graduation, but still have ASC PoY and 2017 D3Soccer.com Forward of the Year Kenne Kessler. Kessler who was the 2017 national goal leader and Josey Myer the 2017 national assist leader who also returned.
The 2018 season only had one loss and it was on the opening game of the season at William Smith as they played three straight NCAA tournament teams to open the year. They scored 70 goals (11th nationally) with 20 players involved and only allowed six for the season (6th nationally). Kenne Kessler garnered her second ASC Offensive PoY to go along with her 2016 ASC Midfielder PoY award. Josey Myer was the ASC Sportsmanship Athlete of the Year.
In the NCAA tournament they defeated Puget Sound in the first round 3-0 outshooting them 18-7 and scoring a couple trademark set piece goals. In the second round they faced No. 12 Trinity (Texas) and also won 3-0. The first 20 minutes were dominated by the Cowgirls but after the beautiful first goal, a Josie Meyer assist to a runner back post, the Tigers woke up and the game became more even. However, freshman Finda Kollie used her speed up top and endured physical punishment to hold the ball up and push the Cowgirls forward. In the second half two early strikes from outside the box put the game away.
Misericordia Season Review
The Cougars are the Middle Atlantic Conference Freedom AQ after an undefeated conference season. It is their third conference title in a row and fourth NCAA appearance in a row. The senior class made it to the Sweet 16 in 2014 as freshmen.
The 2018 season only had two losses on the season to both to NCAA tournament teams, Messiah and Arcadia, out of the six they played. The Cougars scored 58 goals on the season with 23 players registering a goal or assist while only allowing 10 goals against. They did not allow more than one goal in any game including the two losses. Hannah Larkin was the Freedom PoY and Kristen Ritter was Freedom Defensive PoY for the third time after sitting out the 2017 season with injury.
In the NCAA tournament they beat No. 24 Rowan 3-1 in the first round despite being outshot 14-10. In the second round they beat No. 10 Johns Hopkins with an 89th minute goal 1-0 again being outshot 12-7 Alexis Benedetto made some alert saves to keep them in the game. The first half was fairly even, but Johns Hopkins came out to play in the second half with Kristen Hori forcing the issue and the Cougars keeper being stalwart in goal. But in the 89th minute Kendall Pearage lobbed a shot over the Johns Hopkins goal keeper from just outside the top of the box for the only goal in the game.
Seniors' 4-year Record (through Nov. 11)
Middlebury reached the 2013 Final Four, but this crop of players last reached the second weekend in 2016. Swarthmore reached the Elite 8 in 2015 when these seniors were freshman and this is their first return trip to the second weekend.
Hardin-Simmons reached the Final Four last year in 2017 but have been knocked out in shootouts twice in the past four years. They are looking for their first title since 2010. Misericordia has made the tournament the past four years, but this is the first foray into the second weekend for this group of seniors.
Players to Watch
Middlebury: #22 F Eliza Van Voorhis (So.) 8g, 3a, 3gwg (NESCAC 2nd Team) | #5 M Claire Robinson (Sr.) 1g, 1a, 1GWG (NESCAC 1st Team) | #11 D Janie DeVito (Sr.) (NESCAC 1st Team) | #30 GK Ursala Alwang (Jr.) 0.441 GAA (24th nationally) 0.898 SvPct (15th nationally) (NESCAC 2nd team)
Swarthmore: #11 F Marin McCoy (Sr.) 14g, 7a, 9gwg (4th nationally) (2x CC PoY, 4x CC 1st Team, 2015 & 2017 USC 2nd Team All American) | #28 D Yasmeen Namazie (Sr.) (2x CC 1st Team) | #2 M Sydney Covitz (Jr.) 7g, 4a, 2gwg (CC 1st Team) | #16 F Brittany Weiderhold (Jr.) 8g, 2a (CC Honorable Mention) | #5 D Melissa Curran (Sr.) (3x CC 2nd Team) | #0 GK Amy Shmoys (Sr.) 0.55 GAA (35th nationally) .791 SvPct
Hardin-Simmons: #28 F Kenne Kessler (Sr.) 14g, 7a, 4gwg (2017 USC 1st Team All-American, 2017 D3Soccer.com Forward of Year, 2017 ASC Female Athlete of Year, 2017 CoSIDA Academic Athlete of Year) | #13 M Josey Meyer (Sr.) 3g, 13a, 2gwg (2x ASC 1st Team, 2018 ASC Sportsmanship Athlete of Year) | #10 F Randie Dennison (Fr.) 11g, 3gwg () | #6 F Finda Kollie (Fr.) 9g, 6a, 3gwg () | #14 D Sarah Krisa (Sr.) (2x ASC 1st Team, 2017 ASC 2nd Team, 2015 ASC Freshman of Year) | #22 D Kendell Groom (Jr.) (2x ASC 1st Team, 2016 ASC Defensive Freshman of Year) | #34 GK Caitlin Christiansen (Sr.) 0.293 GAA (9th nationally) .857 SvPct (2018 ASC 1st Team)
Misericordia: #10 M Hannah Larkin (Sr.) 8g, 5a 2gwg (MACF PoY) | #3 D Kristen Ritter (Sr.) (3x MACF Defensive PoY) | #20 F Ashley Edgell (Sr.) 9g, 4a, 4gwg (2x All MACF) | #9 M Jeanna Orfanos (Jr.) 10g, 5a, 2gwg | #1 GK Alexis Benedetto (So.) 0.50 GAA (24th nationally) .825 SvPct
Middlebury beat Misericordia 5-1 in the Sweet 16 in 2013 on their way to the Final Four. In 2012 Misericordia prevailed over Middlebury 1-0 in the round of 32. Swarthmore defeated Misericordia 2-1 in the opening round in 2016. Swarthmore defeated Hardin-Simmons in a shootout in the 2015 Sweet 16 after a one all draw.
Why they will advance to the Final Four
Middlebury: The Panthers are hosting, which gives a significant advantage. They haven't allowed more than one goal in a game all season and have a penalty kick specialist on the bench to put in goal when there is a shootout. This gives them freedom to attack. They win a close game in the sectional semifinal and then, well rested for the final; go to PKs to advance to the Final Four.
Swarthmore: The Garnet have played seven NCAA tournament teams and gone 5-2 while also getting revenge over one of those losses 5-1. The defense is experienced and Marin McCoy is tough to stop on the attack and can create her own shot when needed. The Garnet beat a too comfortable host in the first game and a tired opponent in the second game to reach the Final Four.
Hardin-Simmons: The Cowgirls continue their dominant form of the past two years and feel disrespected for only being ranked ninth in the country. They have only allowed six goals. With a stout defense and an more balanced offense than last year, but lots of experience HSU roll to the Final Four looking to add a second national trophy to their case and prove the doubters wrong.
Misericordia: The Cougars haven't allowed more than one goal in any game this season including losses and have experience to grind with top teams (4-2 against tournament teams). Their close-game experience and cold weather acclimatization helps them get through the weekend and sees them into the Final Four.
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