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Women's Sectional Previews: East

Other Sectional Previews:  MIDWEST | AMERICAN | NORTHEAST

By contributor


Chris. Newport (Newport News, VA)

Friday/Saturday, Nov. 16-17

Third Round - Friday

Lynchburg (20-2-2) vs. Messiah (19-1-1), 5:00 pm ET

Hope (16-2-2) at Chris. Newport (19-1-0), 7:30 pm ET

Quarterfinals - Saturday

Sectional Final, 6:00 pm ET

How they reached the Sweet 16

   Berth 1st Round 2nd Round
Messiah Commonwealth AQ W2-0 Centenary (NJ) (N) W1-0 RIT (A)
Lynchburg ODAC AQ W2-1 Piedmont (H) W2-0 Emory (H)
Chris. Newport CAC AQ W10-1 Staten Island (H) W2-0 Scranton (H)
Hope Pool C at-large W1-0 Bridgewater (Va.) (N) W2-1 Otterbein (A)

2018 Statistical Overview

   Record (Pct.) GSA : GAA (Diff.) Avg. OWP SoS vs. Top 25 Last Ten
Messiah 19-1-1 (.929) 3.50 : 0.14 (+3.36) .586 .572 2-1-0 9-0-1
Lynchburg 20-2-2 (.875) 3.28 : 0.61 (+2.67) .618 .601 3-0-0 9-0-1
Chris. Newport 19-1-0 (.950) 3.64 : 0.55 (+3.09) .601 .561 1-1-0 10-0-0
Hope 16-2-2 (.850) 2.02 : 0.39 (+1.63) .613 .595 0-1-1 8-1-1

Messiah Season Review

Messiah comes into the weekend at No. 2 in the Top 25 poll at 19-1-1 and the champion of the MAC Commonwealth. The Falcons traveled to Rochester, NY, for their first two games of the tournament, denied a hosting opportunity courtesy of their men’s team holding hosting duties this year. They defeated Centenary 2-0 Saturday morning and host RIT 1-0 Sunday afternoon. The Falcons have one of the most balanced units in the country, ranking first in most defensive categories and inside the top ten in many offensive categories. The offense is led by junior All-Americans Brooke Firestone (19g, 45pts) and Sunny Gelnovatch (10g, 23pts) but there are plenty of other contributors to the potent attack. Fourteen Falcons have scored this season and seven of those have double-digit points on the year. The Falcons are ninth in scoring offense (3.57 goals-per-game), seventh in points per game (9.86) and sixth in shots on goal per game (25.62), so the Falcons can put it in the back of the net.

While Messiah possesses a potent offensive attack, their top-ranked defense causes headaches to opposing coaches. Last season, this unit held teams to an incredible 0.166 goals-against per game and led the nation in defense. This season, they have lowered that number to an even more incredible 0.140 goals-against per game and, once again, lead the nation. The Falcons also have 18 shutouts on the season, which also tops the standings. The one constant in the Falcons’ defense (other than their constant high-pressure, everyone-plays-defense mentality) is’s 2017 Defensive Player of the Year DJ Cole, who has anchored the center of the defense for both seasons. The three-time MAC Commonwealth Defensive Player of the year leads a unit that allows a mere 3.5 shots per game, with only 1.5 of those being on goal. Cole is joined on the defense by All-MAC players Barb Foster, Sarah Strachan, and keeper Sara Yunez. Teams know that they must take advantage of every chance they get, as they are not going to get many against the Falcons.

The Falcons began the year at No. 5 in our first poll of the season and slowly moved up to No. 2 after victories over then No. 9 Johns Hopkins, then No. 10 Carnegie Mellon, and current No. 16 Misericordia. The only blemishes on their 19-1-1 record are a loss to then No. 6 William Smith (who they outshot 15-8) and a draw to conference rival Arcadia (who they outshot 24-10).

On the bench, the Falcons’ Scott Frey is in his 19th season and is sitting on 399 career wins against 23 losses and 25 draws for an incredible winning percentage of 0.921, which makes him the winningest coach (at least 10 years’ experience) in NCAA Soccer across all divisions and both genders. Coach Frey’s teams have won five NCAA Division III National Championships (‘05, ‘08,’09,’11,’12) and have finished national runner-up four times. This season’s advancement to the Sweet 16 marks the 15th consecutive year of accomplishing that feat, an incredible number considering that the second longest streak (Williams) sits at 6.

Lynchburg Season Review

Lynchburg enters this weekend at 20-2-2 and No. 17 in our poll. The Hornets are riding a 13-match unbeaten streak where they have outscored their opponents 55-10. The Hornets won their 16th ODAC Championship by beating Virginia Wesleyan 3-0 after finishing in a three-way tie atop the ODAC regular season standings and earning the No. 3 seed in that playoff tournament due to tie-breakers. The Hornets then hosted first and second round games of the NCAA Tournament, defeating Piedmont 2-1 Saturday afternoon and Emory 2-0 Sunday afternoon. Lynchburg is averaging 3.38 goals per game while giving up 0.61 goals-against per game. The Hornets have 12 shutouts on the year and have only given up more than one goal twice. The Hornet defense in anchored by senior Katie Waring, a first team All-ODAC selection after moving from wing to center back this season. Senior defender Tate Royer also earned All-ODAC honors this season. Senior keeper Delia Losapio has recorded 81 saves, a 0.59 goals-against-average, and 0.862 save percentage.

The Hornets boast an impressive trio of seniors on offense: Caitlin Mertens (27g,10a), Hannah Olds (17g,2a), and Kennedy Jakubek (9g,15a), who have combined for 133 points this season. The trio isn’t a one-trick pony, however, as 16 Hornets have scored goals and 17 others have recorded an assist. The Hornets have only been held scoreless once and have been held to a single goal only four times.

Lynchburg began the season No. 13 on our initial poll, moved as high as No. 10 at one point and as low as No. 18. This is Lynchburg’s nineteenth NCAA Tournament appearance and seventh visit to the Sweet 16. Lynchburg won the National Championship in 2014. Last season, the Hornets were eliminated in the Sweet 16 by then No.1 ranked TCNJ 5-0. The Hornets began this season with a close win against Gettysburg and then a loss to then No. 11 Carnegie Mellon at the Roanoke Invitational Soccer Showcase. They then followed that loss up with 7 straight wins before falling 2-0 to ODAC rival Randolph-Macon. That loss has been followed up by the current 13 match unbeaten streak. Their wins this season include those against then No. 20 ranked Emory and No. 9 Christopher Newport. On Sunday against Emory, the Hornets scored a goal in each half and held off a late push by Emory to score a 2-0 win. The defense was once again superb, holding the Eagles to 11 shots (5 SOG) in the physical contest, where 30 fouls were whistled.

Coach Todd Olsen has been a fixture on the Lynchburg sideline since 1994 and has recorded an astonishing 438 wins. Since his arrival, the Hornets have posted 21 winning campaigns and have advanced to the NCAA Tournament 16 of the past 19 seasons. During his 25 seasons at the helm, Coach Olsen has taken his teams to eight Sweet 16’s, two Elite 8’s (’04, ’08), a Final Four (’09) and a National Championship in 2014.

Christopher Newport Season Review

Christopher Newport enters the weekend at No. 8 in our poll with a 19-1-0 record and as champion of the Capital Athletic Conference, their 3rd straight CAC title. The Captains hosted the first and second round games of the NCAA Tournament, first lambasting Staten Island 10-1 in the opening round before knocking Scranton out of the competition with a 2-0 victory. The Captains are another team with a very balanced attack, ranking in the top 5 in the nation in scoring offense (3.65 goals-per-game) and in the top 30 for defense (0.55 goals-against average). The Captain defense is headed up by a trio of first team All-CAC defenders - junior Keiley McCarthy, sophomore Lulu Manley, and sophomore keeper Haley Eiser, who has 0.62 goals against average and a 0.831 save percentage. This excellent defensive unit has only allowed 11 goals this season and an average of 7.3 shots per game.

While the Captain defense is exceptional, their offense is virtually unstoppable. The majority of the scoring is completed by sophomore Riley Cook (23g, 6a) and senior Gabby Gillis (15g, 9a), but don’t think that they are the only ones who can produce, as 21 players have recorded points this season and 6 of those are in double digits. Freshman Kristina Toms has especially come on strong in the latter-half of the season, with 11 goals in the last 11 games. This offense has scored multiple goals in every game but one and has not been shutout this season.

Christopher Newport began the season at number 10 in our initial Top 25 poll, moved as far down as No. 15, and currently sit at their highest spot of the season, No. 8. The lone blemish on their 19-1 record is an early season 2-1 loss to Lynchburg, marking the second time in two seasons that they have fallen to the Hornets by that scoreline. The Captains are currently riding a 12-game win streak and are unbeaten at home this season, where they are hosting this sectional championship. The Captains had an early season win against then No. 9 ranked Wisconsin-La Crosse, a come-from-behind 2-1 neutral field victory. This is the Captains’ eleventh trip to the NCAA Tournament and the second time advancing to the Sweet 16. They last reached a sectional championship in 2004, where they defeated Lynchburg 1-0 in Wheaton, IL. They were then eliminated in the sectional final by Wheaton 4-0.

Head Coach Dan Weiler has been at CNU for six years and has amassed a 95-18-9 record while in Newport News. Compared to the veterans that occupy this sectional, Dan’s numbers may seem like he’s some kind of newbie, but that’s not the case, as he spent eleven seasons heading up the Concordia-Moorhead Cobbers prior to taking the head coaching job at Christopher Newport. Coach Weiler has taken his Captains teams to the NCAA Tournament in five of his six seasons, with this being his first Sweet 16.

Hope Season Review

Hope comes in at No. 14 in our latest poll at 16-2-2 and earned an at-large bid to the tournament after falling to Adrian in the MIAA Championship game. They then defeated ODAC regular season champ Bridgewater (Va.) 1-0 in the first round before beating host Otterbein 2-1 in a Saturday afternoon second-round match. The Flying Dutch are averaging 2.10 goals per game while their defense is giving up 0.39 goals per game. While that is the smallest goal differential of the teams in this sectional, they are still impressive numbers. Hope does not have a double-digit goal scorer but has had 13 different players score goals and has 16 players who have registered points. Senior midfielder Rylie Dalton leads the team with nine goals, closely followed by fellow seniors Hilary Curry and Rachael Braginton. Senior defender Eliza Beird leads the team in assists with nine.

The Flying Dutch defense has recorded 12 shutouts this season and only given up 8 goals, ranking 14th in the nation in goals-against average. The defense is also familiar with close matches, having played in 10 one-goal or less games this season with a record of 6-2-2 in those games. The defense is led by the above-mentioned Beird, who was an All-MIAA first-team selection. Fellow seniors Morgan Buursma and Kristen Marsman joined Beird on the All-MIAA squad as second-team selections. Sophomore keeper Jordanne Ellingboe has recorded nine shutouts with a GAA of 0.40, 43 saves, and a save percentage of 0.843. The Flying Dutch have a wealth of experience on this team, with 12 seniors on the roster.

Hope began the year at No. 11 in our initial Top 25 poll and quickly moved to No. 6 when they tied then-No.2 Chicago 1-1. They climbed as high as No. 4 in our poll before suffering a couple of losses (to quality opponents) and settling back to No. 14 in our latest. As stated, they began the year with a quality tie against Chicago and have fared well against traditional powerhouses such as Ohio Northern, Wheaton (Ill.), and Calvin, going 1-1-2 against those opponents and all one-goal or less, closely-contested games. The Flying Dutch have proven that they can play with anyone on any given day.

Leigh Sears is in her 18th season leading the Flying Dutch. She has a career record of 242-114-28 at Hope. She has taken the Flying Dutch to the NCAA Tournament six times, with this being their first trip to the Sweet 16. She has guided Hope to six Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association championships during her tenure at Hope.

Head Coaches


Scott Frey, 19th year (2000-2018), 399-23-25 (.921)
NCAA's (19 of 19): 66-9-7 (.848) | 17th Sweet 16 | Champ. ('05,'08,'09,'11,'12), Runner-up ('02,'07,'10,'16), Final Four ('04,'06,'15), Elite 8 ('14, '17)


Todd Olsen, 25th year (1994-2018), 438-94-48 (.797)
NCAA's (19 of 25): 29-15-5 (.643) | 8th Sweet 16 | Champ. ('14), Final Four ('09), Elite 8 ('04,'08)

Chris. Newport

Dan Weiler, 6th year (2013-2018), 95-18-9 (.816) [career w/ 2 women's teams: 239-76-33 (.734)]
NCAA's (5 of 6): 6-4-1 (.591) | 1st Sweet 16 |


Lee Sears, 19th year (2000-2018), 242-114-28 (.667) [career w/ 2 women's teams: 282-176-31 (.609)]
NCAA's (6 of 19): 5-5-1 (.500) | 1st Sweet 16 |

Seniors' 4-year Record (through Nov. 11)

   Overall (Pct.) NCAA Appearances Record Advancement
Messiah 80-5-9 (.899) '15 '16 '17 '18 14-0-3 Sweet 16: '18; Elite 8: '17;
Final Four: '15, '16
Lynchburg 75-12-7 (.835) '15 '16 '17 '18 7-3-1 Sweet 16: '17, '18; Elite 8: '15
Chris. Newport 69-10-3 (.860)   '16 '17 '18 4-2-1  
Hope 66-12-8 (.814)   '16 '17 '18 3-2-0  

Players to Watch

Messiah: #3 D DJ Cole (Sr.) – (MACC 3x DPOY, 3x 1st Team) | #25 F Brook Firestone (Jr.) – 19g, 7a, 5GWG (MACC OPOY, 2x 1st Team) | #22 M Sunny Gelnovatch (Jr.) – 10g, 6a, 2GWG (3x MACC 1st Team, 2016 ROY) | #23 D Barb Foster (Jr.) – 2g, 2a, 1GWG (2x MACC 1st Team) | #00 GK Sara Yunez (Gr.) – 0.21 GAA, 0.875 SvPct (2x MACC 1st Team)

Lynchburg: #11 F Caitlin Mertens (Sr.) - 27g, 10a, 10GWG (ODAC OPOY, 3x 1st Team) | #19 M Kennedy Jakubek (Sr.) - 9g, 15a, 1GWG (ODAC 1st Team, ODAC 2d Team) | #15 D Katie Waring (Sr.) - (ODAC 1st Team)

Chris. Newport: #25 M Gabby Gillis (Sr.) - 15g, 9a, 3GWG (CAC 2x OPOY, 3x 1st Team) | #5 D Keily McCarthy (Jr.) - (CAC 3x 1st Team) | #19 F Riley Cook (So.) - 23g, 6a, 10GWG (CAC 2x 1st Team, CAC 2017 ROY) | #1 M Maxine Borris (So.) - 1g, 13a, 1GWG (CAC 1st Team) | #35 D Lulu Manley (So.) - (CAC 1st Team) | #00 GK Haley Eiser (So.) - 0.62 GAA, 0.831 SvPct ( CAC 1st Team

Hope: #5 M Rylie Dalton (Sr.) - 9g, 3a 6GWG (MIAA 1st Team) | #23 D Eliza Beird (Sr.) - (MIAA 1st Team) | #3 F Hilary Curry (Sr.) - 7g, 4a, 1GWG (MIAA 1st Team

Tournament Re-Matches

Messiah and Lynchburg have not met since their epic 1-1 tie in the Elite 8, where the Hornets advanced 3-1 on PKs en route to their 2014 National Championship. While only a few players will even remember this game (there are a couple grad students on the rosters), alumni from both teams will be reminding them of that outcome. However, in their all-time series, Messiah leads those contests with a 2-0-2 record.

Lynchburg and Christopher Newport have a more recent, more heated rivalry, should they meet on Saturday. Lynchburg knocked CNU out of the tournament and ruined their shot at a perfect season last year with a 2-1 victory on the Captains’ home field the second round of the NCAAs. Earlier his season, the Captains appeared to be successfully taking revenge when they took a 1-0 lead at the Hornets’ home field, but two quick goals by Lynchburg duplicated last season’s effort and 2-1 victory. The Captains do have a Sweet 16 victory over Lynchburg already to their credit, a 2004 1-0 win over the Hornets during sectional play at Wheaton, IL.

Why they will advance to the Final Four

Messiah: The old saying still applies: “Defense wins championships”. This Falcon team has been built from the back forward to win a championship. Their top-ranked defense should be able to temper the high-flying offenses they face this weekend, and if they can’t, the offense is more than capable to win a scoring duel. The Falcons keep their unbeaten record intact against the Hornets, then squelch the Captains on their home field, enabling this senior class to go to their third Final Four.

Lynchburg: The Hornets have played everyone tough this season, and the trio of Mertens, Olds, and Jakubek prove too much for the Falcon defense. They eventually have to get one into the net, and with some heady play by the defense and keeper Delia Losapio having a career day, they keep Messiah off the board and move onto Saturday’s Elite 8. Once there, they repeat last year’s performance against CNU or stifle Hope to advance back to the Final Four.

Chris. Newport: The Captains’ offense runs rampant over everyone, as Gillis, Toms, and Cook do what they’ve been doing all season long - score goals. They get by Hope with an overwhelming attack and contain the Flying Dutch’s low-scoring offense Friday night. Then they battle on Saturday against Messiah or Lynchburg in a battle where defense wins most of the match, but Gillis and Cook team up to slip one through for a 1-0 win and the Captains go dancin’ in Greensboro.

Hope: The Flying Dutchmen surprise everyone with their tough play and stingy defense as they have all season. This team is familiar with big-time competition and prove it once again, winning a close one with the Captains 1-0, then drawing 0-0 with Messiah or Lynchburg to move through on penalties to their first-ever Final Four.


Other Sectional Previews:  MIDWEST | AMERICAN | NORTHEAST

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