Making its second straight appearance in the NCAA postseason, the Emory University women's soccer team travels cross country for the opening rounds of the NCAA Division III Women's Soccer Championship in Thousand Oaks, CA.
The Eagles will face off against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in the first round Saturday night, beginning at approximately 10:30 PM EST / 7:30 PM PST. Cal Lutheran University will serve as the host institution for the first and second rounds and will square off against UC-Santa Cruz in the other first round matchup at 8:00 PM EST / 5:00 PM PST on Saturday. The two winners will advance to Sunday to battle for a spot in the Sweet 16 at 10:00 PM EST / 7:00 PM PST.
To see the full 64-team field, click here.
Emory University Eagles (13-4; Pool C At-Large Selection)
The Eagles, back in the postseason for the second consecutive season, look to improve upon their second round run from last season. Emory is making its 18th tournament appearance and is 17-16-4 all-time in postseason play.
Emory is headed to the NCAA tournament for the 10th time during Head Coach Sue Patberg's tenure and is currently riding a six-game winning streak, outscoring opponents 22-1 during the stretch. Three different Eagles have turned in double-digit scoring efforts this season, led by freshman Natalie Klar. Through 17 games, Klar leads the team with nine goals and 19 points as she is putting together the highest scoring campaign for an Emory freshman since Emily Feldman recorded 20 points (7G, 6A) in 2011. The nine goals is tied for the fourth-most by an Emory newcomer in their freshman season and the most since Ali Sullivan tallied nine goals during the 2006 season.
Seniors Shivani Beall and Caroline Kolski have each chipped in with five goals apiece with Beall adding a team-leading six assists for 16 points for an offensive unit which ranks ninth in Division III with 24.24 shots per game and 59th in scoring offense at 2.59 goals per game.
Senior Haley Pratt and freshman Peyton Robertson have anchored an Eagles backline that has turned in nine shutouts so far and is ranked 39th in Division III with a 0.49 goals-against average. Pratt enters the weekend ranked 26th in the country in GAA at 0.52 and is 27th among DIII leaders with her .871 save percentage.
Patberg has posted an overall career record of 337-145-59 and a record of 191-58-41 in her 15 seasons with the Eagles. She is joined on staff by Valorie O'Brien, Mike Wentzler and Catherine Whitehill.
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas (10-4-3; Pool C At-Large Selection)
The Athenas will be making their eighth NCAA tournament appearance and first since 2015 after receiving a Pool C At-Large selection. CMS is 3-6-1 in its previous seven trips to the tournament.
CMS thought its season was over as the team missed out on the SCIAC (Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) conference tournament, finishing fifth in the standings with a 6-4-2 SCIAC record, but were granted one of the at-large selections based on a strong strength of schedule. The Athenas are led by All-SCIAC First Teamers in senior Rhiann Holman and sophomore Gracyn Buenconsejo and All-SCIAC Second Team selection senior Sarah Tocher.
Holman was the focal point of the CMS offense, tallying team-highs in goal (8), assists (7) and points (23) as she was one of two Athenas to reach double-digits in scoring. Senior Gabby Clouse added five goals and an assist for 11 points. Buenconsejo was a leader on the defense that recorded nine shutouts in 17 games and a stingy 0.51 GAA. Tocher finished the regular season tied for the team lead with seven assists and added a goal for nine points.
CMS is led on the sidelines by Head Coach Jennifer Clark who is in the midst of her second three-year tenure with the program. She is joined on staff by Natalie Turner-Wyatt and Bobby Clark.
Saturday's match marks the first-ever matchup between Emory and CMS on the soccer field.
Cal Lutheran University Regals (12-3-3; Pool C At-Large Selection)
The Regals also gained entry to the postseason via a Pool C At-Large selection and will be making their 16th overall NCAA tournament appearance and first since 2017. In 15 previous bids, the Regals are 5-14-1.
CLU reached the SCIAC tournament championship game following a semifinal victory over Chapman before falling to Pomona-Pitzer, 3-0, in the title match. The Regals are led by six All-SCIAC performers including First Team selections in senior Zandra Stewart, freshman Mandy Crawford and junior Alexandra Fagerberg.
Stewart is a two-time All-SCIAC First Team defender and anchored the CLU defense which posted eight shutouts in 2019. Fagerberg and Crawford headlined the offense, combining for 15 of the team's 34 goals. Fagerberg topped the team in both goals (9) and points (22) while Crawford had an excellent rookie campaign, tallying six goals and six assists for 18 points. Joining the trio on the All-SCIAC is sophomore Danielle Vis (3G, 2A, 8Pts), junior Trinity Martinez (1G, 2A, 4Pts) and sophomore goalkeeper Alexa Soto (.912 save percentage; 0.48 GAA).
Cal Lutheran is under the leadership of Head Coach Frank Marino who has posted an overall record 158-51-25 in his 11 seasons and guided the Regals to a Sweet 16 appearance in 2017. He is assisted by Jonathan Decker, Shannon Pennington, Kiki Bailey, Jaime Alvarado and Jordon Points.
The Eagles and CLU have matched up two previous times on the pitch with the last meeting coming in September 2016. The Regals are 2-0 all-time against Emory.
UC-Santa Cruz Banana Slugs (13-3-2; Pool B At-Large Selection)
The Banana Slugs, out of the American Collegiate Athletic Association, earned the field's lone Pool B At-Large selection and will be making their 13th appearance in the NCAA Division III Women's Soccer Championship and first since 2017. In its 12 previous appearances, UC-Santa Cruz is 4-10-1.
After claiming the ACAA championship for the second time in three seasons, UCSC was tabbed as the field's Pool B at-large selection as the ACAA does not own an automatic bid to the tournament. The Banana Slugs, which features a roster comprised half of freshman, recorded their best record since 2006 and enters the weekend with the seventh highest scoring offense in the country at 3.72 goals per game.
The Banana Slugs saw nine players voted on as All-ACAA performers including three First Teamers in Izel Gutierrez, Peyton Bell, Tea Lopez and Co-Freshman of the Year Karina Bulli. The team also boasted six Second Team selections in Bulli, Tomiko Hoshijima, Amelia Streiffer, Nicole Aceves, Julia Hernandez, Alyssa Diaz-Tucker and an Honorable Mention honoree in Tianna Knox.
Head Coach Lauren Nadler added conference honors as she was tabbed as the Coach of the Year. Nadler, in her third season, has led the Banana Slugs to a pair of NCAA postseason berths and an overall record of 23-30-4. She is assisted by Cayla Neipris.
Should Emory and UCSC both advance to Sunday's match, it will mark the first-ever meeting between the two schools.