Soccer looks to bring home NCAA trophy

The Mavericks are ranked No. 2 in this weekend’s Central Region bracket

Selection Sunday came and went for the Minnesota State Women’s soccer team, as they earned a second seed into the 2017 NCAA Division-II Tournament.

The women’s soccer team punched its ticket into the tournament after defeating Augustana 2-0 on Sunday.

Minnesota State will face off against the winner of the game between sixth-seeded Southwestern Oklahoma State and third-seeded Missouri Western State in the second round of the 2017

NCAA Division-II Women’s Soccer Central Region Tournament at 1:00 p.m., on Sunday at The Pitch.

Minnesota State (17-2-2) clinched its sixth Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Tournament title to earn an automatic qualifier into the NCAA Tournament. Going into the tournament, Minnesota State’s defense has been one of the most proficient at shutting down opposing offenses in all of NCAA D-II this season. Minnesota State is tied for second in the nation in shutout percentage (.762) and shutouts (16), and fifth in goals against average (0.369).

Earlier this season, Minnesota State recorded a new program record, recording 11 consecutive shutouts, which tied for the seventh-longest shutout streak in NCAA D-II women’s soccer history.

From the second goal of the match with then-No. 14 ranked Grand Valley State on Sept. 10, to when University of Mary scored against the Mavericks on Oct. 21, the Mavericks played over 1,045 minutes without allowing a goal.

The Mavericks will be led with a balanced attack on both offense and defense. During the NSIC Tournament, there were six Mavericks that were named to the NSIC All-Tournament team: senior midfielder Lexi Pszanka, sophomore forward Morgan Cottew, freshman forward Molly Sarafolean, junior defender Abby Hausken, junior goalkeeper Taylor Livermore, and the NSIC

Tournament MVP, sophomore midfielder Alesha Duccini. These players and the rest of the team will be the ingredients for success going forward.

The third-seeded Missouri Western State Griffons (17-4-0) are making the first NCAA Tournament appearance in program history. Missouri Western State, who lost to Central Region No. 1-seed Central Missouri 4-1 in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Tournament championship match, has had an amazing year, breaking more than 30 individual and team records this season. Three of the Griffons’ four losses have come against unbeaten Central Missouri, which may be a key factor going into this matchup.

The Griffons are paced on offense by junior forward Cassidy Menke, who leads the team in goals (15), points (33) and shots (119). Senior forward Sydney Cluck leads the team with eight assists, while adding nine goals for 26 points.

The Southwestern Oklahoma State Bulldogs (12-4-3) are making only their second NCAA Tournament appearance in program history after winning the Great American Conference Tournament. The Bulldogs defeated GAC Regular Season Champion Oklahoma Baptist 3-2 in the championship match.

Sophomore forward Alimata Rabo for the Bulldogs is a very talented-offensive player, leading the NCAA D-II women’s soccer this season in goals (27), assists (12) and points (66). The Bulldogs’ second-leading scorer is sophomore forward Sandra Nabweteme, who has tallied 13 goals and four assists for 30 points.

Whichever ever team ends up facing off against the Mavericks after winning this matchup will have a tall-task in front of them, especially with the amount of talent on Minnesota State’s team.

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