The Bridgeport Purple Knights defeated Grand Valley State in the 2018 DII women's soccer national championship. For Bridgeport, it was the program’s first title, while the Lakers were in their sixth championship match in the past 10 years.
Congratulations, if you saw that one coming in August.
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The DII women’s soccer season is not an easy one to predict. That’s precisely why we went ahead and tried. Here are three things we (probably) see happening in 2019.
Bridgeport will return to the championship game
The Purple Knights shocked the DII women’s soccer world by taming Grand Valley State’s high-octane offense and bringing home the program’s first national championship in a 1-0 thriller in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There’s little reason to think that can’t happen again.
Maegan Doyle finished second in DII with 28 goals scored last season, earning her DII national player of the year honors. Her return is the big reason Bridgeport should make a run at becoming the first repeat champion since the Lakers' three-peat from 2013-15. But she’s not alone. Nara DaCosta (11 goals), Anisha Hill (eight goals) and Andrea Basilicato (six goals) join Doyle as the top four scorers from last year's championship team.
Where the question mark rests is in the net. Gone is keeper Jennifer Wendelius, as she is replaced on the roster by two freshmen goalies in Helena Dahlstrom and Claudia Torres. Annie Bjork — projected to win the ECC defensive player of the year — anchors a solid offense, and with the firepower returning on offense, the Purple Knights should be able to weather any early-season learning curve.
Grand Valley State continues its historic streaks, we think
The Lakers are synonymous with DII women’s soccer. They have more national runner-up campaigns (three) in the last 10 seasons than other schools have titles, and have five championships since 2009.
They also haven’t lost on their home pitch since 2016. And you have to go back to 2014 for the last time they lost in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play.
The top 5 longest home win streaks in DII women's soccer
|61||MSU Denver||Sept. 20, 2002||Oct. 22, 2006|
|44 (Tie)||Seattle Pacific||Oct. 17, 2006||Sept. 16, 2010|
|44 (Tie)||Franklin Pierce||Sept. 9, 1992||Sept. 6, 1996|
|41 (Tie)||Franklin Pierce||Sept. 10, 1996||Sept. 28, 2000|
|41 (Tie)*||Grand Valley State||Oct. 7, 2016||Present|
Florida Tech came into GVSU Soccer Field on Oct. 5, 2016, and downed the Lakers 2-1. They haven’t lost since. Grand Valley State has reeled off 41 straight at GVSU Soccer Stadium, including GLIAC and NCAA tournament play, going a remarkable 18-0-0 at home last season. That ties Franklin Pierce for the third-longest home winning streak in history and is 20 off the mark set by MSU Denver from Sept. 20, 2002 to Oct. 22, 2006. That win streak will certainly be put to the test in 2019 with No. 6 Lee coming on Sept. 7 and GLIAC rival No. 12 Ferris State paying a visit on Oct. 27. But until the Lakers lose at home, you have to think the streak stays alive.
Speaking of conference rivals, how about GVSU’s record in the GLIAC since 2014. You have to go back to Oct. 17, 2014 when Ohio Dominican — now a member of the G-MAC — pulled off the total package, handing the Lakers a home and conference loss. The Lakers are 58-0 at home since a Nov. 1, 2014 win over Walsh, the best-mark in DII history. With at least nine GLIAC foes on the schedule before the tournament, the Lakers could be in the 70s by the time 2019 comes to a close.
Top five longest conference win streaks in DII women's soccer history
|58||Grand Valley State||Nov. 1, 2014||Present|
|57||MSU Denver||Nov. 2, 2002||Oct. 22, 2006|
|49||Franklin Pierce||Sept. 25, 1994||Oct. 3, 2000|
|45 (Tie)||Barry||Oct. 2, 1999||Oct. 24, 2004|
(All streaks from the official NCAA record book unless noted.)
Jasa Curry leads DII women's soccer in goals
Curry had a pretty solid freshman debut for Shaw in 2018. She set the program record with 23 goals, the sixth-most scored in DII, and also set the single-season mark with five game-winners.
Like we said, pretty solid.
Shaw enters its third season as an official DII women's soccer program. The Bears set the bar and got noticed, improving from a four-win team to a 12-win team in one season. Curry exploded on the DII scene and should only be better in her sophomore campaign.