For sixty-four women's soccer teams, this weekend marks the beginning of the most exciting time of year – the NCAA Division III Tournament. For the 16th time in program history, The University of Scranton women's soccer team will be a part of the excitement.
The Royals will take on Connecticut College in a first-round match on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at McDaniel College in Westminster, Md. This is Scranton's first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2013, when they made the final of four straight appearances.
Saturday also marks the fifth NCAA appearance under head coach Colleen Pivirotto, who also played in the tournament in all four of her seasons as a Royal from 2000 to 2003.
Scranton reached the NCAA Tournament thanks to its 2-0 victory over Moravian in the Landmark Conference championship on Saturday, Nov. 5. Championship MVP Hannah DeMars (Cranford, N.J./Cranford) scored the match-winning goal in the fifth minute, and sophomore forward Jamie Hreniuk (West Caldwell, N.J./James Caldwell) scored less than four minutes later for her second goal of the playoffs.
The Royals (17-1-1) enter the NCAA Tournament riding a 15-game winning streak, the team's longest winning streak since 2003. The 17 victories are also the most since they won 23 during that 2003 season in which they reached the NCAA quarterfinals, where they lost to eventual national champion Oneonta State, 1-0 in double overtime.
Hreniuk, who was named Landmark Conference Co-Offensive Player of the Year, leads the team with 13 goals and 29 points. Four other Royals have scored at least six goals, including DeMars, who is second on the team with eight, and senior defender Carolyn Warner (Morris Plains, N.J./Parsippany Hills), who scored seven goals while earning Landmark Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors. Junior midfielder Taylor Stevens (Yardley, Pa./Villa Joseph Marie) leads the team and is 38th in the country with 10 assists, and four other players have at least four assists.
On defense, the Royals have posted 14 shutouts, which is tied for the fourth most in a single season in program history. Senior goalkeeper Krissy Welsh (Swarthmore, Pa./Strath Haven) has nine solo shutouts and her goals-against average of 0.599 is ranked 40th in the country.
As a team, Scranton is ranked 29th in the nation in goals-against average at 0.508 and 42nd in save percentage at 0.861. Offensive, the Royals are ranked 31st in assists per game (2.21) and 48th in goals per game at 2.84.
The Royals are currently ranked no. 16 in the D3soocer.com Top 25 and are receiving votes in the National Soccer Coaches Association (NSCAA) of America Top 25. They are also ranked 17th in the nation in strength of schedule, according to NCAA.com.
About Connecticut College
Connecticut College reached the NCAA Tournament through an at-large bid after posting a 10-5-1 record and falling in the quarterfinals of the highly competitive Northeast Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) tournament. The Camels reached the tournament despite going 1-4-1 in their final six games, including a pair of losses to Amherst, which is ranked 13th in the NSCAA Top 25.
Sophomore forward Alex Baltazar (Ludlow, Mass./Wilbraham & Monson Academy) is Connecticut College's leading offensive threat with nine goals and four assists for 22 points, and was a second-team all-NESCAC selection. Junior midfielder Michelle Medina (Hartford, Conn./Northwest Catholic) leads the Camels in assists with eight.
Junior goalkeeper Bryanna Montalvo (Rocky Hill, Conn./Rocky Hill) took over the starting job in the sixth game of the season and has posted a 0.65 goals-against average over nine matches. She has a .857 save percentage and has posted five shutouts.
The Camels, who are one of five NESCAC teams in the tournament, average 1.81 goals per match and are allowing 0.94 despite giving up six to Amherst in that NESCAC quarterfinal loss.
Prior to Scranton's matchup against Connecticut College on Saturday, the host McDaniel will take on Farmingdale State at 11 a.m. The winners of Saturday's first-round matches will square off in a second-round match on Sunday at 1 p.m. at McDaniel.
Tickets for the games are $6 for general admission and $3 for seniors, students and children. A ticket on Saturday is good for admission to both first-round matches. A new ticket must be purchased for Sunday's second-round match.
Video for all three matches is available at http://www.mcdanielathletics.com/sports/wsoc/2016-17/videos/ncaa-regional. Live stats for Scranton's matches are available at http://athletics.scranton.edu/sports/wsoc/2016-17/schedule.
For additional information, including visitor information and directions to McDaniel, visit http://www.mcdanielathletics.com/sports/wsoc/2016-17/files/ncaa-regional/index.
To see the complete bracket for the NCAA Division III Women's Soccer Tournament, visit http://www.ncaa.com/interactive-bracket/soccer-women/d3.