Westfield State University's women's soccer team will travel to William Smith College in Geneva, N.Y. for the opening round of the 2018 NCAA Division III women's soccer national tournament.
Westfield will face the host Herons in the opener at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 10.
"We're very excited," said Westfield State head coach Todd Ditmar. "The team has accomplished a lot, I think we have gotten better each week, and we've worked hard to get to this point. Getting to the NCAA Tournament is a goal for us this year, and it's nice to accomplish something that you have set out to do."
The Herons are ranked 10th in the latest United Soccer Coaches poll and 12th in the D3soccer.com poll. William Smith earned its 12th straight Liberty League Tournament Championship, and has a 14-3-0 overall record.
Westfield State enters the game with a 10-6-3 record, having won the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament last Sunday.
"Definitely playing the extra game in the tournament helped to build confidence," said Ditmar. "It felt like we got on a roll with a big win on Tuesday, and that helped spark us for tough games on Friday and Sunday."
The Owls are led by their four all-conference players. Freshman forward Jenn Rennich is the team's top scorer with eight goals and 10 assists for 26 points. Junior midfielder Natalia Eduardo (1-3-5) helps key the Owls attack, while senior defender Casey Rotti (4-0-8) and senior goalkeeper Natalia Falcone have anchored the top defense in the MASCAC.
Westfield is making its second straight and seventh overall appearance in the NCAA tournament
The Herons earned the Liberty League's automatic bid into the tournament with a 1-0 win over RIT on Saturday. William Smith is making its 29th NCAA tournament appearance (53-21-9) and are seeking their third national championship (1988, 2013). William Smith enters the tournament on a three-match win streak and is 8-2-0 at home this season.
Herons' senior midfielder Megan Barwick and junior defender Emilie Sauvayre earned all-conference first team honors while senior midfielder Sarah Olick-Sutphen and sophomore defender Maialen Martinez were named to the second team.
Barwick leads the Herons with nine goals, six assists and 24 points.
Sauvayre and Martinez anchored William Smith's stingy defensive unit. The Herons allowed a league low six goals this season. Through 17 games, William Smith is ninth in the nation with a 0.35 goals against average.
Goalkeeper Veronica Romines has an outstanding 0.19 goals-against average and a 10-1 record between the pipes.
"I'm looking at our team more," said Ditmar about scouting the Herons. "Our defense needs to continue to play well, we know that they are a top team and we need to go out with the right attitude and confidence."
William Smith is one of 16 hosts for the first and second rounds of the NCAA Division III Women's Soccer Championship. The Herons will take on Westfield State on Saturday, Nov. 10, at 11 a.m. The contest will be followed by Tufts vs. Penn State-Behrend at 1:30 p.m. All three contests will be played on Boswell Field at David J Urick Stadium.
Tufts is 10-5-2 overall this season and receiving votes in the latest United Soccer Coaches poll. The Jumbos earned an at-large bid into the tournament after falling to Williams in the New England Small College Athletic Conference semifinals. Tufts is making its seventh appearance in the NCAA tournament (10-5-4 all-time record).
Penn State-Behrend is 13-6-0 overall this season. The Lions secured the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Championship with a 1-0 win over Mr. Aloysius, earning the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Penn St.-Behrend is making its 11th trip to the NCAA tournament (0-10-0). The Lions bring an eight-match win streak into the NCAA tournament.
Saturday's winning teams will meet in a second round game on Sunday, Nov. 11 at 1 p.m. Tickets are $6 for general admission, $3 for senior citizens, military personnel and students (ages 13-College), children ages 3-12 are $2. Children under 3-years-old are admitted free.
Live video coverage of the games and livestream stats are available at WestfieldStateOwls.com and at HWSAthletics.com.