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By BJ Pheasant
|Williams (Williamstown, MA)||•||Sectional Webpage||•||Saturday/Sunday, Nov. 18-19|
Third Round – Saturday
|Cal Lutheran (16-3-3) at Williams (18-1-1), 11:00 am ET|
Quarterfinals – Sunday
Sectional Final, 1:00 am ET
How they reached the Sweet 16
2017 Statistical Overview
Williams Season Review
The No. 6 ranked Ephs are the automatic qualifier (AQ) from the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), which has five entrants into the national tournament. The Ephs have been on a tear over the last five seasons with five straight Sweet 16’s or better (only one other school, Messiah, matches that streak). Williams was national runner-up in 2014, national champion in 2015 and have an experienced squad.
In the 2017 the Ephs were 8 minutes away from an undefeated regular season while playing six tournament participants. They are led by senior defender Danielle Sim, the NESCAC Player of the Year—the first defender to do so. Combining with Sim in the back to only allow 7 goals on the season is junior goalkeeper Olivia Barnhill with a 0.41 GAA (#11 in Div. III) and .851 Save Pct. Offensively they are led by sophomore forward Alison Lu with her 10 goals, 5 assists and 4 GWG) and senior forward Natasha Albaneze with 6 goals, 10 assists and 4 GWG. They are backed up by senior midfielder and All-NESCAC First Teamer Evan Gancedo (4g, 1a).
Cal Lutheran Season Review
The Regals are unranked nationally entering the tournament, but were No. 2 in the NCAA West Regional Rankings. They are an at-large selection from the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC). The season started with three out-of-region tournament participants including a weekend trip to the east coast, and a game against No. 4 Christopher Newport, mirroring their current tournament trip. Their 16-3-3 record included a regular season title, but a stumble in the conference tournament final led to their at-large selection.
Spearheading the offense is senior forward Kali Youngdahl (13g, 7a, 7 GWG) who was the SCIAC Athlete of the Year and is a four-time First Team All-SCIAC player. Contributing to the 44 goals the Regals scored was freshman Sam Cornejo (7g) and freshman defender Trinity Martinez (3g, 6a), the SCIAC Newcomer of the Year and a First Team All-SCIAC selection. In the midfield, sophomore Maddy Griess (2g, 3a) was dangerous with several assists off of long throw-ins into the box. In addition to Martinez on defense senior Olivia Leyva has three All-SCIAC awards in her career. The goalkeeping was by committee with freshman goalkeeper Gabby Flores playing about half the minutes.
Johns Hopkins Season Review
The Blue Jays are the No. 12 ranked team entering the tournament, an at-large entrant from the Centennial Conference after an undefeated conference regular season, but a shootout loss in the conference tournament final. They have two losses on the year while playing five NCAA tournament participants during the season. They return an experienced squad that has Final Four experience from their freshman year and a Sweet 16 run last year.
Offensively, senior forward Michelle Santangelo leads the team with 18 goals and 4 assists. Freshman Riley O’Toole is the Centennial Conference Rookie of the Year and 1st Team All-Centennial with 13 goals, 2 assists, and 6 game-winners (tied for 15th nationally). Missing from the line-up for the last half of the season is 2015 3rd Team All-Mid-Atlantic Region junior forward Kristen Hori. On defense, junior Kyla Persky was a 2nd Team All-Centennial performer while senior goalkeeper Bess Kitzmiller only allowed 11 goals on the season in posting a 0.72 GAA and a .784 Save Pct.
Geneseo State Season Review
The Knights are ranked thirteenth entering the tournament and are the AQ from the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC). They were half a game away from being undefeated on the season and played two tournament teams during their non-conference schedule.
Offensively, senior forward Audrey Reid had impressive stats—19 goals (tied-4th in Div. III), 8 assists, 5 GWG—and was 1st Team All-SUNYAC and SUNYAC Tournament MVP. Sophomore forward Domenica Piccoli had 8 goals, 5 assists and 5 GWG and freshman Ellie Gregory also pitched in with 4 goals and 4 assists earning the SUNYAC Rookie of the Year award. Defensively, senior midfielder Leah Greene had 7 goals and was named SUNYAC Defensive Player of the Year. Assisting in allowing only 10 goals on the season were both center backs, junior Rachel Walsh and sophomore Taylor Clar, also named to the All-SUNYAC First Team. Junior goalkeeper Emily Janiszewski had a 0.47 GAA and .885 Save Pct. (16th and 15th in the nation, respectively) and earned All-SUNYAC honors for the third time.
Seniors’ 4-year Record (through Nov. 13)
And then there were two. Williams and Messiah are the only two teams to have advanced to the Sweet 16 for five straight seasons or more (a third team, Thomas More, following an off-season coaching change, had their four-year streak snapped with a first round loss this year). Williams has eleven consecutive trips to the tournament. In 2014 they lost in the championship game in PKs and in 2015 climbed the summit with a national championship.
Cal Lutheran is in the tournament for their thirteenth time. The farthest they have gone is the Sweet 16. Johns Hopkins has advanced to their ninth Sweet 16 having previously been knocked out a game shy of the Final Four in 2012 and 2013 before advancing to the national semifinals in 2014. Geneseo State is making its sixth NCAA Tournament appearance in program history and its first since 2014. Geneseo advanced to the Final Four in 1994.
Players to Watch
Williams: #21 D Danielle Sim (Sr.) (NESCAC POY, 2x NESCAC 1st Team) | #10 M Evan Gancedo (Sr.) 4g, 1a (NESCAC 1st Team) | #16 F Alison Lu (So.) 10g, 5a, 4GWG (NESCAC 2nd Team) | #26 F Natasha Albaneze (Sr.) 6g, 10a, 4GWG (2x NESCAC 2nd Team) | #1 GK Olivia Barnhill (Jr.) 0.41 GAA, .851 SvPct (NESCAC 2nd Team)
Cal Lutheran: #20 F Kali Youngdahl (Sr.) 13g, 7a, 7GWG (t-4th nationally) (SCIAC Athlete of the Year, 4x SCIAC 1st Team) | #14 F Sam Cornejo (Fr.) 7g (SCIAC 2nd Team) | #8 D Trinity Martinez (Fr.) 3g, 6a (SCIAC 1st Team) | #24 M Maddy Griess (So.) 2g, 3a (SCIAC 1st Team) | #28 D Olivia Leyva (Sr.) (SCIAC 1st Team, 2x SCIAC 2nd Team)
Johns Hopkins: #10 F Michelle Santangelo (Sr.) 18g, 4a (Centennial 1st Team) | #16 F Riley O’Toole (Fr.) 13g, 2a, 6GWG (t-15th nationally) (Centennial ROY & 1st Team) | #3 F Bailey Monaco (Sr.) 5g, 7a | #0 GK Bess Kitzmiller (Sr.) 0.72 GAA, .784 SvPct (Centennial 1st Team)
Geneseo State: #17 F Audrey Reid (Sr.) 19g (t-21st nationally), 8a, 5GWG (SUNYAC 1st Team) | #14 F Domenica Piccoli (So.) 8g, 5a, 5GWG (SUNYAC 2nd Team) | #11 M Leah Greene (Sr.) 7g (SUNYAC Def. POY) | #5 F Ellie Gregory (Fr.) 4g, 4a (SUNYAC ROY) | #1 GK Emily Janiszewski (Jr.) 0.47 GAA, (16th nationally) .885 SvPct (15th nationally) (SUNYAC 1st Team, 2nd Team, 3rd Team)
Cal Lutheran does not have any tournament or regular season history with teams in this sectional during the past ten years. In 2014 Johns Hopkins beat Geneseo State 3-1 in the round of 32. The primary historical conflict in the quad is between Johns Hopkins and Williams. In 2013 Johns Hopkins beat Williams in the Sweet 16, in 2014 Williams beat Johns Hopkins in the Final Four on the way to a runner-up finish, and in 2016 Williams defeated Johns Hopkins in the round of 16, 2-1.
Why they will advance to the Final Four
Williams: The Ephs are the sixth-ranked team in the nation, have significant tournament experience and are hosting, which are key attributes to advancing. The Ephs have five straight Sweet 16’s or better (only one other school matches that streak) including being national runner-up in 2014 and champions in 2015. They were 8 minutes away from an undefeated 2017 regular season, walloped 2016 Final Four participant Brandeis, 3-0, to advance and are looking to continue their predictable march to the Final Four and beyond.
Cal Lutheran: The Regals are the second-ranked team in the West region by the NCAA, but unranked nationally and facing a sectional that features the No. 6, 12, and 13 teams in the D3socceer.com Top 25. They have already traveled to the East coast for a weekend of games this season in preparation for a tournament run including a game against fourth-ranked Christopher Newport. Their preparation pays off as they sneak past the hosts and then are the last team standing after allowing their opposition to slug it out with the victor having shorter rest for Sunday’s game. CLU moves on to the Final Four.
Johns Hopkins: The Blue Jays are ranked twelfth going into the tournament and after an undefeated conference regular season were upset in a shootout in the conference tournament finals. They also have Elite 8 experience in 2012 and 2013 with a Final Four appearance in 2014. The wake-up call inspires their NCAA tournament run where they win on Saturday with the goal of beating recent tournament nemesis, Williams, on Sunday to advance to their second Final Four.
Geneseo State: The Knights are ranked thirteenth entering the tournament and are half a game away from being undefeated on the season. There are players on the squad that remember the 2014 loss to Johns Hopkins and use it as motivation to reverse the result. After reaching the Elite 8 they grind out a result and advance to their first Final Four since 1994.
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