The first two rounds of the 2018 DII Women's Soccer Championship are in the books. Eight No. 1 seeds entered play, and only five — Bloomsburg, Central Oklahoma, Columbus State, Grand Valley State and UC San Diego — survived.
So, what's up next for the No. 1 seeds? What stands in their way of heading to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the national semifinals on Nov. 29?
No. 1 Bloomsburg vs No. 6 West Virginia Wesleyan
West Virginia Wesleyan lost its first game of the season. That was the last game the Bobcats lost. They have now gone unbeaten in 19-straight matches and are set to face off against one of the best teams in DII women’s soccer.
The Bobcats entered the tournament as the No. 6 seed and have turned into PSAC-killers. First, they upset No. 3 Kutztown and then No. 2 West Chester, both coming in penalty kick fashion. Next up is No. 1-seeded Bloomsburg. The Huskies are on a small win streak, both of their last two victories coming against East Stroudsburg. The first was to claim their first PSAC title since 2002 and the second was to defend their No. 1 seed. Now they prepare for their biggest challenge: a Bobcats team that is feasting on its PSAC competitors.
WINNER PLAYS: victor of LIU Post vs. Bridgeport.
No. 1 Grand Valley State vs. No. 3 Ferris State
Welcome to a good old-fashioned Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rivalry on a whole new level. The Lakers are no strangers to tournament play, winning five national championships since 2009. The Bulldogs? They’re just here to keep making history.
Grand Valley State has an unbeaten record on the season sitting at 22-0-1. Two of those victories have come against Ferris State, first a 2-1 double-overtime thriller on Oct. 19 and then in the GLIAC championship game, where the Lakers handed the Bulldogs a 4-0 loss. In fact, including the GLIAC tournament, the Lakers have been blowing past the competition, outscoring their opponents 25-1 in postseason play.
But these aren’t your ordinary Bulldogs. This Ferris State team has already made history with the most wins and goals scored in a single-season in program history. It has not only made its first NCAA tournament but is perfect thus far, posting back-to-back shutouts to get to the third round. Taking down a DII women’s soccer titan would be quite the exclamation point to the Bulldogs' run.WINNER PLAYS: victor of Central Missouri vs. Central Oklahoma.
No. 1 Central Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Central Missouri
Here’s another conference rivalry to get excited about. Central Missouri — despite losing some of its best players in program history — finds itself right back in the mix. The Jennies' foe is Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association adversary Central Oklahoma.
Jens shut out Bemidji State 2-0 to advance to the Central Region Championship. Makayla Toth and Maria Wilder both scored in the victory. Lindsey Johnson had 10 saves in the net. #JENSWIN pic.twitter.com/D6dFkXo2T1— Jennies Soccer (@UCM_Soccer) November 11, 2018
The Bronchos ended the Jennies eight-year run as MIAA champs this season. Now, they hope to end their title defense. It should be a good one as two of DII women soccer’s most dynamic scorers will go head-to-head on the pitch. UCO’s Katie Killion leads DII with 29 goals, while Jada Scott has put in 19. If it comes down to defense, the Bronchos and Jennies were No. 1 and No. 2 in the MIAA in goalkeeping this year, with UCO’s Kelsi Gibson allowing just a 0.317 goals-against-average with Lindsay Johnson behind her with 1.156.
This should be one of the most competitive games in the entire tournament and don’t be surprised if it comes down to penalty kicks with both teams out to settle a score.
No. 1 Columbus State vs. No. 6 Lincoln Memorial
Columbus State is in familiar territory. The Cougars are once again a No. 1 seed amid another deep November run. The Railsplitters? Not so much.
Lincoln Memorial is set to face off against the 2015 national runners-up Friday. It got here by beating the 2017 national runners-up, Carson-Newman, not once, but twice since Nov. 4 The first time was to lock up its first South Atlantic Conference title since 2007 and the second time was to move on to the third round for the first time since 2004. In between, the Lady Railsplitters faced a Lander team that made its NCAA tournament debut. It’s been a wild ride for LMU so far.
There isn’t much to say about Columbus State that hasn’t already been said. Olivia Jarrell and Riley Clark (16 goals each) lead the No. 2 scoring offense in DII women’s soccer. Bria Riancho anchors a defense by posting nine shutouts in her 19 starts. There aren’t many weaknesses on this team. When you combine that with their postseason experience, Lincoln Memorial will have to play its best game of the year to keep chasing that glass slipper.
WINNER PLAYS: victor of Lee vs. Mississippi College.
No. 1 UC San Diego vs. No. 3 Western Washington
Like Central Missouri, Western Washington lost one of its greatest players in program history to graduation in Sierra Shugarts. Also like the Jennies, these Vikings are a deep squad and haven’t missed a beat, playing for the West Region title for the sixth time in the past seven years.
W⚽️ | The Road to Pittsburgh takes @WWU_WSoccer to Canyon, Texas for a West Regional Final showdown with UC San Diego on Friday.— WWU Athletics (@WWUAthletics) November 13, 2018
Details and Links:
🔗 https://t.co/unFufk0628 pic.twitter.com/5ZamHtWCC1
Western Washington's Gabriela Pelogi is having a “down year” by her lofty standards, having missed almost a month in mid-October, but she is still the force to be reckoned with. She has nine goals and two assists, both career lows, but that doesn’t matter. She leads the team in goals and is the senior veteran presence that grounds this offensive attack.
This is the third time the Tritons and Vikings have squared off in the West Region finals, including the last two back to back. Western Washington won in 2016 and UC San Diego avenged that loss last season. When you have two of the best teams in the nation in a rubber match in what has become one of the best postseason rivalries, you have one of the best games of the tournament.
WINNER PLAYS: victor of Dallas Baptist vs. West Texas A&M.