While a solid back line and goalkeeper are important to a soccer team's success, nothing is more crucial than having a clutch goal scorer.
As exciting as goals are, they are equally hard to come by. Let's take a look at five DII women's soccer stars who have propelled their teams to the top by mastering the art of goal scoring.
Gabriella Mencotti, Forward, Grand Valley State
Mencotti scores goals. That's what she does. And when she does, the Lakers win games. A lot of them, as a matter of fact.
The senior forward has been relentless on the opposing net her entire career. She led the NCAA in goals last season, scoring 29 in the Lakers' run to the finals. She is an absolute offensive machine, leading all active women's soccer players in goals and points, while also being the active DII leader in assists.
Mencotti got off to a slow start in 2017 and so did the Lakers, starting 0-2 for the first time in what seemed an eternity. Then she got hot — scoring 10 goals in a three-game, five-day span — and the Lakers have been cruising since. Her 21 goals are second in DII, but if there is a guarantee in women's soccer, it's that Mencotti will be putting more balls in the net before her career is done.
Alimata Robo, Forward, Southwestern Oklahoma
It shouldn't be much of a surprise that Robo is becoming one of the most lethal offensive weapons in DII women's soccer. She earned All-American and Great American Conference Player of the Year honors last year in her freshman debut.
Under the radar no more, Robo is earning attention on the national level.
Robo has shifted gears with the postseason looming. She has scored in her last seven games, totaling 14 goals over that span. The hot streak has sprung her to the top of the DII leaderboard. Her 22 goals are best in the division and second-most in the nation. Most importantly, the Bulldogs are in second place in the GAC with a tournament spot locked up. That keeps them in the hunt for the NCAA postseason and gives Robo more chances to do her thing.
Olivia Jarrell, Forward, Columbus State
The Cougars are the the No. 8 team in DII women's soccer. They are also the top-ranked scoring offense in DII, scoring five goals a game.
Jarrell is the leader of that attack.
The junior All-American already is in the Columbus State record books for single-season goals after scoring 19 last season. She paces Columbus State in goals this year with 15 and after a two goal, two assist performance in her last game, she leads the team with nine assists. Her 15 goals are second in the Peach Belt Conference behind the red-hot Amanda Bartholomew (Georgia College) and tied for 11th-best in DII.
Jarrell is catching fire at the right time. She scored two goals in four of the Cougars' last five games, helping CSU jump from 15 back into the Top 10. If she keeps that pace up, she'll set some new records and the Cougars will have a chance at a return trip to the national semifinals.
Gabriela Pelogi, Forward, Western Washington
Like Jarrell, you won't find Pelogi's name at the top of the DII women's soccer goal leaders. But there is no denying that the top scorer for the reigning national champions is one of the most important pieces in the Vikings offense.
Pelogi has led Western Washington in goals in each of the past two seasons. She's knocked in 24 goals over that span. During the same time, the Vikings have won 38 consecutive games (unbeaten in 39 straight), including the 2016 national championship.
The junior isn't done yet. She leads the Great Northwest Athletic Conference in both goals and points, while her 13 goals have her tied for 15th in DII. While the Vikings are anchored by one of the best defenders in the land in Sierra Shugarts, Western Washington will continue to roll as long as Pelogi is leading the charge up front.
Carolina Lucci, Forward, Chowan
Chowan was not a soccer team accustomed to winning. The 2014 and 2015 Hawks registered just one win apiece. Last season, head coach Chris White made huge strides in his second year in charge, taking Chowan to an 8-6-2 record. The Hawks were seemingly one piece away from competing for a conference title.
Enter freshman Carolina Lucci.
Lucci has taken the Conference Carolinas by storm. She has won three straight Player of the Week Awards and has five on the season in total. Her 19 goals and 42 points are tops in the conference and it isn't even close. She has a 10-goal advantage on the next closest player. Lucci finds herself ranked third in DII women's soccer in goals and points.
The Hawks are on a seven-game winning streak and Lucci has scored in every one of them, putting 10 goals in net over that span. Chowan is 11-1-2 overall with an 8-1-1 conference record, guaranteed the No. 2-seed in the tournament. If Lucci keeps producing, Chowan could play itself into the NCAA postseason, a remarkable turnaround considering where this team was when White took over.