It was a busy weekend in DII Women’s Soccer and Field Hockey as conference tournaments ultimately decided many team’s fates in Monday’s championship seedings.
FIELD HOCKEY — ESU MAKES PROGRAM HISTORY
Coach Sandy Miller has waited 32 years for her East Stroudsburg Warriors to win the PSAC Tournament. The wait is finally over, and for Miller, she knew this was a special team right out of the gates.
“We started off by playing Stonehill [No. 1 in the East Region] and Adelphi [No. 3], two pretty good teams from the Northeast-10 and beat them [5-1 and 4-1],” Miller said. “Soon after those games were done, I said to the team, ‘I think there’s something special here.’
You always go into a season with high hopes, but you can tell pretty quickly what you got there after some tough competition.”
It was no easy journey for ESU as the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference teams dominated the top five in the NFHCA poll all year. To claim their first title, ESU would have to go through the past four national champions.
“The PSAC Conference is just unbelievable field hockey,” Miller said. “Our season really turned around when we beat West Chester at home 4-0. When you beat a team of that quality by that score — especially when West Chester has been taking it to us quite a bit —we knew we had something special.”
The Warriors first beat West Chester 3-1 in the semi-finals, and then took care of the reigning DII champion Millersville Marauders in the finals 1-0. The victory not only gives them their first title, but locks up the No. 1 seed in the Atlantic Region and a first round bye.
ESU last reached the DII Tournament Finals in 2010. They lost that season to Bentley, but they lost more than just the game after that tournament.
“In 2010 we were in NCAA tournament,” Miller said. “Then we weren’t there for two years. We had lost ten seniors, we were rebuilding.
We’ve gone to the conference championships the last two years, and have gotten stronger every year. We’re playing 16 or 17 kids a game, and when they have that experience and work ethic, it breeds success. The kids are now believing in the system. The fact that we have five seniors and five juniors that have been a part of this most recent success — it is significant for us.”
Now, with their first PSAC title in the books, they patiently wait for the victor of the November 14th Millersville/West Chester game as their quest for their first National Championship begins.
In the other bracket, the Northeast-10 saw a bit of the unexpected in their tournament as Stonehill (No. 4 in the NE-10 and No. 10 in the nation entering the tourney) took home the tournament title behind two strong upsets.
The Skyhawks first defeated the No. 1 seeded Adelphi 4-3 in overtime in the semi-finals before taking down No. 2 Assumption in the finals. Erika Kelly — both an All American and the NE-10 Player of the Year — scored both goals in the 2-1 championship victory.
Stonehill earned the No. 1 seed in the East Region and is preparing for the winner of the Adelphi/Merrimack game November 14th.
SOCCER — THE FIELD IS SET
After an action packed weekend of conference championships, DII Women’s Soccer’s final 48 teams are set and ready to battle for the National Championship.
No big surprise at the top, as Grand Valley State romped through the GLIAC tournament, winning all three of their matches by a total score of 14-0. The GLIAC Championship — their eighth in a row — earned them the top seed in their Midwest Region as well as the No. 1 ranking in the NSCAA.
The Western Washington Vikings were finally able to defeat their conference rival Seattle Pacific. The past three Great Northwest Athletic Conference championships have come down to SPU and WWU. SPU took the 2013 and 2014 titles, but the Vikings would end the run this year, taking home the GNAC title behind a 3-1 victory. It also locked up the top seed in the West Region.
The NSIC saw a bit of a shakeup heading into the DII Tournament. Mankato — who sat at No. 3 in the nation and No. 1 in the conference heading into the tournament — was surprisingly ousted in the semi-finals in a thrilling shootout with No. 4 seeded Winona State. Augustana — ranked No. 21 in the nation and seeded No. 2 in the NSIC tourney — would grab their elusive first NSIC tournament championship with a 1-0 victory over Winona State. The victory earned Augustana a No. 3 seed in the Central Region where they will face off against Harding on Friday.
Taking over the No. 3 spot in the nation from Mankato is the Columbus State Cougars. The Cougars would complete their second consecutive Peach Belt Conference and tournament championship sweep, defeating their in-state rival North Georgia 3-2. The Cougars head into the tournament as the No. 2 seed in the Southeast Region.
The No. 1 seed in the Southeast belongs to the Carson-Newman Eagles. The Eagles will be making their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2009, the first under head coach Richard Moodie’s tenure.
"A phenomenal achievement from the women's side to have started the season ninth in the preseason conference rankings and now we're first in the conference, won the conference tournament and to have a regional ranking is fantastic; I think to even have a national ranking is unbelievable," coach Richard Moodie told CNU Athletics. "To have the ability to host at home just gives us that little bit more competitive edge as we go back into the national tournament for the first time since 2009. For us to go in as such a high seed, I think is just amazing. We hope the campus can come out and support the Eagles.”
Despite being upset by West Texas A & M in the Lone Star Conference Championship, Angelo State was able to secure their first No. 1 seed in program history in the South Central Region. Texas A & M- Commerce would win the LSC — their second consecutive tournament title —and played themselves into the DII tournament, facing Colorado Mines this Thursday.
East Stroudsburg closed out an exciting weekend by adding a PSAC Soccer Tournament Title to their field hockey one. Sitting at 11-6-2 on the season and in seventh place in the PSAC, the Warriors weren’t even in the top ten in the Atlantic Region heading into tournament play. Now, they are headed to the DII Soccer Championships.
ESU defeated No. 4 Edinboro — who upset top seeded Gannon in the semi-finals — by a score of 2-1. The victory earned ESU the sixth seed in the Atlantic Region and a Friday matchup with conference rival West Chester.