Four teams look to make program history at the DII Women's Soccer Championship
The 2017 Division II Women's Soccer Championship semifinals are set. With Western Washington out of the equation, 2017 will see a new national champion.
Three of the four teams left are making their semifinals debut, while all four are in a position to win their program's first-ever national championship. This will be a historic two days at Swopes Park to say the least.
The action kicks off Thursday, November 30 at 12 p.m. ET from Kansas City, Missouri. Which team will take home that elusive championship? Here's what you need to know about the final four teams remaining in the hunt.
University of Colorado-Colorado Springs vs. Carson-Newman
This has been a historic season for the UCCS Mountain Lions. First, they set the mark for most program wins, entering the NCAA postseason with 14. They made it to their first-ever Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament finals, and won in shutout fashion. That merited the Mountain Lions their first-ever postseason appearance. Three wins later, they are heading to the semifinals for the first time in program history.
Not too shabby a debut season for head coach Sian Hudson. In her first year leading the squad, the Mountain Lions are 17-4-1, with several statement wins over nationally ranked programs along the way. They have done it behind a balance on offense and a steady defense that didn't allow more than two goals in any game this season. Sophomore midfielder Tarah Patterson has led the charge with a team-best nine goals and four assists. She is joined by seven other Mountain Lions who have scored at least three goals this season. Senior Taylor Proctor has minded the net this season, posting five shutouts.
Carson-Newman is also headed by a first-year head coach. Simon Duffy has yet to lose with the Eagles, going 20-0-1 in 2017.
The Eagles have been rolling in the postseason, outscoring their opponents 10-0 in their first three games. A pair of DII's Top 10 point-scorers -- senior mid/forward Lauren Wade (17 goals, 13 assists) and junior midfielder Magda Mosengo (16 goals, 12 assists) -- lead one of the most powerful scoring offenses in DII women's soccer. Carson-Newman headed into tournament play with a 3.29 goals per game average, fourth-best in DII. Sophomore Jacqueline Burns has caught fire at the right time. The Eagles keeper hasn't let up a goal since the South Atlantic Conference semifinals. That's four straight games she and her defense have held opponents scoreless.
Mercy vs. Central Missouri
Mercy is also making its first-ever trip to the National Semifinals. Head coach Jonathan Feinstein was able to make it happen in his ninth season at the helm. The Mavericks went 18-3-1 on the season, winning their first East Coast Conference title since 2014.
The offense is powered by sophomore forward Ally Boots who's 15 goals were second-best in ECC play. Senior midfielder Heidi Serna is right behind her with 12 goals. It was Serna's penalty kick that sent the Mavericks to the semifinals in their shootout victory over West Chester. The duo of productive goal scorers aside, this team's offense runs through sharing the ball. Four players have six or more assists, and their 2.23 assists per game was Top 10 in DII.
Freshman Melissa Torres and senior Ashley Price tag-team in net. Torres held West Chester to one goal in the quarterfinals, while Price came in for the penalty kicks, making the two huge saves that helped the Mavericks advance.
When you hear Central Missouri, you think Ana Dilkes. The senior goaltender made DII women's history this season, recording her 60th career shutout, the most all-time. Dilkes started the season by not allowing a goal for 12 straight games, allowing a mere four goals to date.
That's only half of it, though. Jennies have one of the best offensive attacks in the nation. Forwards Jada Scott and Abby Rhodes lead DII's No. 3 scoring offense (3.54 goals per game) with 17 goals apiece. Senior midfielder Baylie Edwards chipped in 12 goals. Freshman forward Makayla Toth added ten more. If you shut down one offensive threat, another one is looming, and defender Kayla Hamner is waiting to give the ball to any one of them with her team-best seven assists. Head coach Lewis Theobald, in his 11th season, has finally found a seemingly perfect blend on the pitch.
A history-making day for Jennies Soccer! UCM topped Grand Valley St. 3-1 today, and the Jennies advance to the NCAA Final Four for the first time in program history. #teamUCM pic.twitter.com/rJEFYsi7AE— UCM Mules & Jennies (@UCMMULES) November 20, 2017
The division's best goals-against-average paired with the No. 3 scoring attack. That is a combo that can help the Jennies advance to their first-ever championship game.