CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (November 16) – The No. 13 MIT women's soccer team has advanced to the sectional round of the 2017 NCAA Division III Tournament and will play No. 10 Messiah College on Saturday, November 18 at 1:30 p.m. at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). Joining MIT and Messiah in the Sweet 16 are No. 1 TCNJ and No. 20 Lynchburg College. Those two teams will play in the first game on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. and the winners of each match will advance to Sunday's Elite 8 at 1:00 p.m.
No. 1 TCNJ vs. No. 20 Lynchburg College – Saturday, November 18 at 11:00 a.m. (Live Stats | Video)
No. 10 Messiah vs. No. 13 MIT – Saturday, November 18 at 1:30 p.m. (Live Stats | Video)
Teams Who Advance to Elite 8 – Sunday, November 19 at 1:00 p.m. (Live Stats | Video)
MIT, in the midst of its best season in program history, enters this weekend with an overall record of 20-1-1. The Engineers advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2012 after they defeated Castleton University, 7-2, in the opening round and Middlebury College, 1-0, in the second round on Sunday afternoon.
Sophomore Sophia Struckman (Scottsdale, Ariz.) was the difference for the Engineers against Middlebury as her goal in the 22nd minute proved to be the game winner. MIT is led by senior Olivia Struckman (Scottsdale, Ariz.) and sophomore Emily Berzolla (Riverside, Conn.), who both have hit the 30 point mark this fall, while defensively goalkeeper Lily Mueller (Lakeville, Minn.) has a mark of 19-1-1 in between the pipes with a goals against average of 0.64 and a save percentage of 0.831 in nearly 1700 minutes. On the back line, junior Hailey Nichols (Boulder, Colo.), senior Jacqueline Simmons (Houston, Texas) and freshman Maya Nielan (Danville, Calif.) have been critical to MIT's success as they have helped the Engineers to nine shutouts including two in the past three games.
The Engineers, which has one of the best offenses in the country, will face a team in Messiah (16-2-3), which has allowed the fewest goals this year (3 – 0.14 GAA) across all NCAA Division III women's soccer programs. Offensively, Messiah's Brooke Firestone leads the Falcons in goals (9), assists (12) and points (30), while Lydia Ewing in net has pitched 15 shutouts for a record of 14-2-1 in 18 games. The Falcons, who also hosted a first and second round pod in Grantham, Pa., shutout Westfield State University, 4-0, in the opening game and then registered a 1-0 victory over the University of Scranton to move on to this weekend's sectional semifinals.
Lynchburg (20-3) made its way to the Sweet 16 after upsetting No. 7 Christopher Newport University in the second round last weekend 2-1. In its first round game against McDaniel, Kennedy Jakubek registered the game winning goal in the 96th minute, which gave Lynchburg its chance to compete in the second round. The Hornets have a pair of double digit goal scorers in junior Caitilin Mertens (14) and classmate Kennedy Jakubek (11) as both also lead the team in points with, 31 and 29, respectively. In net, junior Delia LoSapio, has posted six shutouts, a goals against average of 0.72 and a .758 save percentage in 23 games this fall.
Finally, TCNJ (20-0) is one of two teams left in the bracket and in the country with an undefeated record as the Lions currently sit atop the United Soccer Coaches national poll and did so for the first time after winning the NJAC Tournament over Montclair State back on November 3. TCNJ went on to shutout both Roger Williams University and Virginia Wesleyan University by 3-0 scores in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Christine Levering leads the Lions in goals (15) and points (35) this fall, while in net Nicole DiPasquale has allowed just three goals of a GAA of 0.17, has 13 shutouts and a record of 20-0 coming into this weekend's sectional semifinals.
Getting out of this sectional and advancing to the Final Four will not be an easy task for any of the four teams who play in New Jersey this weekend. This pod features three teams with 20 or more wins as well as three teams ranked 13 or higher nationally. But the team that does win twice this weekend, will certainly enjoy a trip to Greensboro, North Carolina on the weekend of December 1-2, 2017 for a chance to compete for a National Championship.