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By BJ Pheasant
|William Smith (Geneva, NY)||•||Sectional Webpage||•||Saturday/Sunday, Nov. 18-19|
Third Round – Saturday
|Ohio Northern (19-1-2) at William Smith (19-1-0), 11:00 am ET|
Quarterfinals – Sunday
Sectional Final, 1:00 pm ET
How they reached the Sweet 16
2017 Statistical Overview
William Smith Season Review
The Herons are D3soccer.com’s No. 2 ranked team entering the tournament, the automatic qualifier (AQ) from the Liberty League and are the league’s regular season champions for the eleventh straight year. This year’s seniors have not lost a conference match with a four-year conference record of 32-0. Entering the 2017 tournament, William Smith is coming off of consecutive Elite 8 appearances and are looking to add to their 1988 and 2013 titles. They were also runners-up in 1987 and 1997.
In the 2017 regular season they had five contests against teams in the NCAA field,going 4-1 including a 1-0 win over Messiah. Their only loss on the season came to Geneseo State, 1-0, who has also made it to the second weekend. They are on a 15-game winning streak since that point. They also have 15 shutouts on the season, having only allowing five goals thanks to junior goalkeeper Veronica Romines with her 0.22 GAA (4th nationally) and 0.882 save pct. and three all-conference defenders. Offensively the Herons scored 53 goals with senior forward, Liberty League Player of the Year, Evie Manning (13g, 7a, 5 GWG) and junior midfielder Megan Barwick (12g, 7a, 4 GWG) shouldering the load. Overall 18 players were involved in goals or assists.
Ohio Northern Season Review
The Polar Bears had an inauspicious start to the season with a loss in their first game. They have been undefeated since with a 19-1-2 record overall and a clean 9-0 sweep in the Ohio Athletic Conference winning the regular season and tournament titles. They are ranked No. 14 entering the tournament as the automatic qualifier from the OACwhich, along with the MIAA and the Big 10, is one of only three conferences over 100 years old. ONU only played two 2017 NCAA tournament teams during the season.
ONU tied their own team record with 13 shutouts in a season led by senior OAC Defender of the Year, Hannah Reich, and sophomore OAC Goalkeeper of the Year, Meagan Grierson, who posted a 0.41 GAA (10th in the nation) and .850 save pct. Goals were by committee throughout the season with the top scorers being freshman Jena Fuller (OAC Freshman of the Year) with 11 goals and 12 assists, sophomore Rose Nienaber with 10 goals and 6 assists, and senior Anna Niemeyer with 7 goals and 3 assists. In all, fifteen Polar Bears registered a goal or an assist as they scored 60 times during the season. They also swept all but one OAC post-season conference honor for players and coaches.
Carnegie Mellon Season Review
The Tartans, ranked No. 9 entering the tournament, are an at-large selection from the UAA which sent three teams to the Final Four in 2016. CMU’s overall 15-2-2 mark this year featured seven games against teams in the 2017 NCAA field along with 1-2-1 record against last years’s Final Four participants, three being conference rivals and the fourth, Messiah, being a non-conferenceopponent. They also tied fellow sectional member Ohio Northern in non-conference play.
Their 2016 tournament was a bit disappointing by CMU standards with a 3-1 loss to Penn State-Berks in the opening round and they will look to erase that memory by continuing their strong 2017 tournament run. The Tartans have ground out eight 1-0 wins this season and have only scored two goals in a game on three occassions during the month of October, totaling 43 goals for the season. Their leading scorer is senior Haili Adams with 12 goals and 3 assists. Unfortunately, sophomore Ryan Casey, who had led the team with 8 goals and 4 assists through ten games, has not played since being substituted out of their October 7 duel with Brandeis with an injury.. Freshman goalkeeper Carolyn Botz has been key in playing all 19 games this season and earning 1st team All-UAA selection with a 0.43 GAA (15th nationally) and .810 save pct.
Hardin-Simmons Season Review
Hardin-Simmons is the No. 5 ranked team in the nation entering the tournament as the AQ from the American Southwest Conference. With a roster featuring the last three ASC Offensive Players of the Year and a two-time ASC Defensive POY, HSU strolled through the American Southwest Conference for its 15th-straight conference title. The Cowgirls’ biggest win thus far, however, was their most recent: 3-2 over No. 8 Trinity (Texas) to advance to the Sectional Semifinal.
The Cowgirls are very good defensively, allowing just four regular season goals, but the offensive numbers pop off the stat sheet with a nation-leading 108 goals on the season that equates to 5.14 goals per game, the top mark remaining in the NCAA tournament. They’ve scored at least six goals in nine of 21 games and have only been held to one goal on two occasions early in the season. Junior Kenne Kessler (2017 ASC Offensive POY, 2016 ASC Midfield POY) led the country in scoring with 37 goals and 9 assists. Serving the ball up is junior Josey Meyer who leads the nation with 24 assists. Senior defender Kristen Parrish (two-time ASC Defender of the Year) is second on the team in goals with 14to go along with 9 assists. Senior Kami Jones (two-time ASC Offensive Player of the Year) led the team in goals in previous seasons, but injury cost her the middle third of the season and limited her production to 5 goals and 8 assists. She has returned for the post-season with 1 goal and 2 assists in five games and is lurking in the wings to pick up any slack.
Goalkeeper Caitlin Christianson has started all 21 games, leading the way to 15 shutouts with her 0.33 GAA (8th nationally). Tiffany Van Hoose is a three-time 2nd team All-ASC defender who patrols in front of the goal along with Parrish.
Seniors’ 4-year Record (through Nov. 13)
William Smith has consecutive Elite 8 appearances and are looking for the next step while Ohio Northern returns after a six-year absence. Carnegie Melon’s six all-time appearances have been consecutive, starting in 2012. In 2016 they were knocked out in the first round. Hardin-Simmons has been knocked out in shootouts twice in the past three years and are looking for their first title since 2010.
Players to Watch
William Smith: #10 F Evie Manning (Sr.) 13g, 7a, 5GWG (2017 LL POY, 3x LL 1st Team) | #3 M Megan Barwick (Jr.) 12g, 7a, 4GWG (LL 1st Team) | #20 D Elizabeth Moore (So.) 6g (LL 1st Team) | #30 GK Veronica Romines (Jr.) 0.22 GAA (4th nationally) 0.882 SvPct
Ohio Northern: #2 M Haley Moses (So.) 4g, 4a (OAC MidOY, 2x OAC 1st Team) | #9 D Hannah Reich (Sr.) (OAC DefOY, 4x OAC 1st Team | #33 F Jenna Fuller (Fr.) 11g, 12a (OAC ROY) | #22 F Rose Nienaber (So.) 10g, 6a (OAC 1st team) | #0 GK Meagan Grierson (So.) 0.41 GAA (10th nationally) .850 SvPct (OAC GKOY& 1st Team)
Carnegie Mellon: #7 F Haili Adams (Sr.) 12g, 3a (3x UAA 1st Team, 2x NSCAA All-Great Lakes) | #4 M Tori Iatarola (Sr.) 2g, 4a (4x UAA 1st Team , 2014 NSCAA 2nd Team All-Great Lakes) | #14 D Katie Strycharz (Sr.) 2g, 5a (3x UAA 2nd Team) | #1 GK Carolyn Botz (Fr.) 0.43 GAA (15th nationally) .810 SvPct (UAA 1st Team)
Hardin-Simmons: #28 F Kenne Kessler (Jr.) 37g (1st nationally), 9a, 6GWG (ASC Off. POY, 2016 ASC MidOY, 3x ASC 1st team) | #13 M Josey Meyer (Jr.) 1g, 24a (1st nationally) (ASC 1st team) | #16 D Kristen Parrish (Sr.) 14g, 9a, 3GWG (2x ASC Def. POY, 3x ASC 1st team, 2016 D3soccer.com 2nd Team All-American) | #15 M Kami Jones (Sr.) 5g, 8a, 2GWG (2x ASC Off. POY, 2x ASC 1st team, 2016 NSCAA 1st Team All-American, 2016 D3soccer.com 2nd Team All-American) | #34 GK Caitlin Christiansen (Jr.) 0.37 GAA (8th nationally) .846 SvPct (2x ASC 2nd team)
The Hardin-Simmons Cowgirls are meeting new opponents in the sectional as they have not played any of the other three teams in the past ten years. In 2014 Carnegie Mellon Tartans beat William Smith 2-1 in a regular season match up. The history in the sectional is between Ohio Northern and Carnegie Mellon as they drew 0-0 in an early non-conference match up this year to continue a streak of ties between the two: a 0-0 result in 2015 and a 1-all score line in 2013. Additionally, the last time Ohio Northern made the NCAA tournament Carnegie Melon knocked them out in the round of 32, 1-0, in 2012.
Why they will advance to the Final Four
William Smith: The Herons are the second-ranked team in the country entering the tournament having only allowed four goals on the season and their only loss came to another Sweet 16 participant. Their convincing regular season schedule, NCAA tournament experience and hosting duties in the second weekend are major pluses. Their first opponent is a tournament neophyte traveling on the road. The second game is another well-rested home game as they get the tired survivor of two heavyweights slugging it out the previous day, which leads to the Herons advancing to the Final Four.
Ohio Northern: The Polar Bears are excited to return to the tournament for the first time since 2012. They are on a long run of success having lost their first game of the season on the road and won every game since. In a powerful sectional with the No. 2, 5, and 9 ranked teams in the nation, this 14th-ranked ONU team is overlooked even though they tied No. 9 Carnegie Mellon during the season. A balanced attack on offense means difficulty in planning who to stop. The Polar Bears sneak past a too comfortable host in the first game and a tired opponent in the second game to reach the Final Four.
Carnegie Mellon: It will be chilly weather, which favors the Pittsburgh team and Hardin-Simmons “pulled off a dramatic rally to beat arch-rival Trinity 3-2 in the second round” leading to an emotional letdown. The Tartans UAA experience means they played all four of last year’s Final Four participants, going 1-2-1. They know what it takes to grind with top teams, having eight 1-0 wins on the season, and their close-game experience sees them into the Final Four.
Hardin-Simmons: The Cowgirls continue their dominant form and feel disrespected for only being ranked fifth in the country. They have an undefeated regular season only allowing four goals while only being held to one goal scored on two occasions early in the season. With a stout defense and an overwhelming offenseled by the potent combination of the country’s assist leader (Josey Meyer, 22) and goal-scoring leader (Kenne Kessler, 35)—not to mention having previous leading scorer Kami Jones back in the line-up—HSU roll to the Final Four looking to add a second national trophy to their case and prove the doubters wrong.
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