Back in the big dance for the first time since 2014, the Emory University Women's Soccer team travels to Lynchburg, VA this weekend for the opening rounds of the 2018 NCAA Division III Women's Soccer Championship.
The Eagles will square off against NEAC Champion Penn State-Berks in the first round on Saturday, beginning at approximately at 3:30 PM. University of Lynchburg, the host institution for the first and second rounds, will face Piedmont College in the other opening round match on Saturday at 1:00 PM. The two winners will play each other at 3:00 PM on Sunday for a spot in the Round of 16 next weekend.
Emory University Eagles (13-4-1; At-Large Selection)
The Eagles were one of 20 "Pool B" at-large selections when the field was announced on Monday, marking the program's first berth to the NCAA tournament since 2014 and 17th overall. Emory is 16-15-4 all-time in the postseason and reached the Division III title game in 2012.
Emory has been on a roll since the start of October, posting a 7-1-1 record including a five-game winning streak to close out the season. Junior Shivani Beall has been a key piece of the Eagles offense in 2018, tallying nine goals and four assists for 22 points, the most points scored by an Eagle in a single season since Jamie English netted 27 in 2007, and is one of seven field players to register double-digit points this season. Senior Madison Phaneuf and sophomores Samantha Hilsee and Caroline Moore have each posted 15 points to rank second on the team with Phaneuf and Hilsee checking in with six markers a piece. Senior goalkeeper Dani Staffin currently ranks 76th in the nation with a career-best 0.80 goals-against average while making a personal-best 55 saves for a .809 save percentage. The Eagles as a team ranks 65th in Division III with a 0.76 GAA.
Head Coach Sue Patberg has posted an overall career record of 323-140-59 and a record of 177-53-41 in her 14 seasons with the Eagles. She is joined on staff by Valorie O'Brien and Mike Wentzler.
Penn State-Berks Nittany Lions (15-3-2; NEAC Champions)
The Nittany Lions will be making their sixth straight appearance in the postseason after capturing the North Eastern Athletic Conference crown with a 4-0 victory over Keuka College in the conference title match. PSU-Berks is 2-5 in its five previous trips to the NCAA tournament and were bounced from the first round, 2-1 in OT, to SUNY-Geneseo in 2017.
After a 1-0 loss to Johns Hopkins on September 26th, PSU-Berks has turned in an 11-0-1 record in its final 12 games of the regular season, outscoring opposing teams 71-2. The Nittany Lions boast the highest scoring offense in the nation, averaging 5.55 goals per contest led by the country's leading scorer Caitlin Golden. Through 20 games, Golden has netted a Division III-leading 38 goals and 85 points, is tied for the team lead with nine assists and is one of four Nittany Lions to score double-digit goals on the season. Defensively, PSU-Berks has surrendered eight goals with goalkeeper Bristol Pizzuto totaling 56 saves for a .875 save percentage in her 20 starts.
The Nittany Lions are led by Head Coach Adrian Munteaunu who is 150-64-11 in his 11 seasons with the team. He is joined on staff by Tom Gosselin.
Saturday's meeting will mark the first-ever matchup between Emory and PSU-Berks.
University of Lynchburg Hornets (18-2-2; ODAC Champions)
The Hornets are back in the postseason for the 12th consecutive season and 19th time overall after defeating Virginia Wesleyan, 3-0, in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference championship game. Lynchburg is 27-15-5 all-time in the NCAA tournament and is coming off a Sweet 16 appearance last year.
Lynchburg enters the postseason on a high note, going 9-0-2 in its last 11 games with its last defeat coming to Randolph-Macon on October 3rd. The senior tandem of Caitlin Mertens and Hannah Olds has powered the offense for the Hornets this year, combining for 43 of the team's 77 goals. Classmate Kennedy Jakubek has dished out a team-best 15 assists to go along with nine goals to rank third on the team behind Mertens (26 G, 9 A, 61 Pts) and Olds (17 G, 2 A, 36 pts) with 33 points. Senior Dalia LoSapio has seen the majority of action between the posts this season, recording a 0.60 GAA and .860 save percentage in nearly 1,800 minutes.
The Hornets are under the leadership of long-time Head Coach Dr. Todd Olsen who is in his 25th season with the program and guided the team to the 2014 national title. He is assisted by Natalie Deacon, Jessica Gonzalez, Matt Newton and Kevin Smith.
Emory and Lynchburg have matched up 19 previous times with the Hornets evening the series at 8-8-3 with their 1-0 win earlier this year on September 15th in a neutral game played in Sewanee, TN. The two teams have met five times previously in the NCAA tournament with the Hornets leading 3-2 in those contests.
Piedmont College Lions (17-4-1; USA South Champions)
Piedmont claimed the USA South championship for the third time in four years to send the Lions to their fifth overall appearance in NCAA Division III tournament. Despite four previous trips to the NCAA tournament, Piedmont is still looking for its first postseason win.
The Lions have reeled off seven straight wins to close out the regular season, culminating with a 1-0 win over Maryville College in the USA South championship game on November 3rd. Senior forward Cassidy Reich headlines the Piedmont offensive unit, leading the team with eight goals and 19 points in 17 games played. Classmate Samantha Ishee has doled out a team-best six assists and ranks behind Reich for the team lead with 16 points. PC has allowed just eight goals in 22 games as a team, totaling 16 shutouts. Sophomore goalkeeper Miranda McNalley owns a 0.38 GAA in 20 games played including 19 starts to go along with 65 saves for a .905 save percentage.
Timmy McCormack has guided the Lions to an overall record of 33-4-5 in his two-year stretch as the head coach of the program after serving as an assistant for eight years. He is joined on staff by Rachel Hines.
Should both Emory and Piedmont advance to the Second Round it would mark the 10th overall meeting between the schools with the Eagles currently winning the series 8-1 including a 2-0 record in the postseason. The two squads met on the pitch earlier this season on September 21st with Emory topping the visiting Lions, 3-0, in Atlanta.