For sixty-four NCAA Division III women's soccer teams across the country, the quest for a national title begins in earnest this weekend. For The University of Scranton women's soccer team, that quest begins with a matchup against a nationally ranked opponents.
The Royals (14-3-2) will take on 25th-ranked Rowan (12-2-3) in a first-round match on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa. It's Scranton's second straight NCAA Tournament appearance and 17th in program history. It's also the sixth under head coach Colleen Pivirotto, who is in her 10th season.
Scranton secured its spot in the NCAA Tournament by winning the Landmark Conference championship with a 2-0 win over Susquehanna in the title match on Saturday, Nov. 4, at Fitzpatrick Field. Championship MVP Rebecca Russo (South Windsor, Conn./South Windsor) scored the match-winning goal in the third minute and junior forward Jamie Hreniuk (West Caldwell, N.J./James Caldwell) added the insurance goal midway through the first half.
The Royals enter the playoffs having won nine of their last 10 and are unbeaten in 14 of their last 15. The went a perfect 9-0-0 against Landmark Conference foes, posting a scoring margin of 26-2 in the process.
Hreniuk, who was named first-team all-Landmark Conference earlier this week, leads the team with 12 goals while adding an assist for a team-high 25 points. Junior midfielder Erica Licari (Saint James, N.Y./Smithtown East) was also a first-team choice and has six goals and four assists for 16 points. Senior forward Kelly Pompey (South Abington Twp., Pa./Scranton Prep) also has six goals while junior midfielder Taylor Stevens (Yardley, Pa./Villa Joseph Marie) leads the Landmark Conference with eight assists.
On defense, Russo was a first-team all-conference selection, as was junior goalkeeper Colleen Berry (Ridgewood, N.J./Ridgewood), who has 12 shutouts, a 0.66 goals-against average and is ranked 32nd in the nation with a 0.867 save percentage. Freshman outside back Shae Guilfoyle (West Nyack, N.Y./Pearl River) was also named the conference's Rookie of the Year.
Scranton is ranked 14th in the country in shutout percentage at 0.667 and 27th in save percentage at 0.869. The Royals are also 49th in goals-against average at 0.689.
About Rowan University
Rowan is making its third straight and 13th NCAA Tournament appearance overall after receiving an at-large bid. The Profs were knocked out of the New Jersey Athletic Conference playoffs in the semifinals after tying third-ranked Montclair State, 0-0, before being eliminated on penalty kicks, 4-2.
Senior forward Melissa Kelly leads a balanced offensive attack with six goals and seven assists for 19 points. Five other players have notched at least 10 points, including freshman midfielder Megan Reardigan and junior forward Cathryn McCarry, who are both tied with Kelly for the team lead with six goals apiece.
Junior goalkeeper Shelby Money anchors the defense and has posted nine shutouts and has a goals-against average of just 0.31, which is ninth best in NCAA Division III. Her 0.889 save percentage ranks 14th in the nation.
As a team, Rowan is ranked seventh nationally in goals against at just 0.282 per game. The Profs are also 67th nationally in scoring offense at 2.59 goals per game.
Prior to Scranton's matchup with Rowan on Saturday, the host school, Messiah, will take on Westfield State in a first-round matchup at 11:30 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 Messiah.
Tickets each day 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.
For more information on the opening weekend at Messiah, visit http://gomessiah.com/sports/2017/11/6/FHWSOCTourney.aspx.
To see the complete bracket for the NCAA Division III Women's Soccer Tournament, visit http://www.ncaa.com/interactive-bracket/soccer-women/d3.