Whilst every other Aussie is left to reflect on their season and prepare for 2023, two players remain in the hunt for a national title. Keiser’s Georgia Little and Cumberlands’ Georgia Martell are both in Orange Beach, Alabama this week as they look to bring home an NAIA National Championship. Just three wins stand between each team and a title, and with the two Aussies on opposite sides of the draw, could we see an Aussie v Aussie championship game?
#1 Keiser (Georgia Little)
Quarter-Finals: v #8 Aquinas – 6am, Friday, December 2
Owners of a 21-0-1 record to this point as well as regular season and tournament championships in the Sun Conference, Keiser head to the final site as the overall #1 seed and with good reason. Only #5 seed William Carey have taken points off Keiser this year in a 2-2 draw, whilst all bar four of their victories have been by margins of multiple goals. The Seahawks have quite simply cut a swathe through their schedule this season, and now just three wins stand between them and a third national championship in four seasons after 2021’s attempt a three-peat came to an end in the quarter finals against Central Methodist.
Keiser’s quarter-final comes against an Aquinas side that edged their way past Westmont 2-1 in the opening round. Champions of the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference, Aquinas own a 21-2-1 record to this point, with their losses coming to then-#3 Central Methodist and the #2 seed in this very tournament, Marian. Although Keiser will fancy their chances, nothing comes easy at this stage of the season. Should the Seahawks get through against Aquinas, they will face the winner of Spring Arbor and William Carey in a semi-final that would be a matchup of absolute NAIA heavyweights.
Georgia Little has started in 11 of her 21 appearances, but has regularly played starter-level minutes even when coming off the bench for Keiser in her freshman season. Expect to see the Novocastrian defender heavily involved once again as the Seahawks chase silverware.
#3 Cumberlands (Georgia Martell)
Quarter-Finals: v #6 Oklahoma Wesleyan – 12pm, Friday December 2
Cumberlands may not have the quite the same résumé as Keiser after falling to Lauren Woodcock and Campbellsville in extra time in the Mid-South Conference tournament, but they do have a 17-1-3 record, the #3 seed, and Georgia Martell between the sticks. Having lost in the opening round at the final site in 2021, the Patriots have already improved on last season’s result simply by earning a bye to the quarter-finals, with a matchup against #6 seed Oklahoma Wesleyan awaiting them in Orange Beach. Oklahoma Wesleyan did the double in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference this season, rolling through the regular season and tournament with a 22-0-1 record and no less than eight double-digit victories.
If Cumberlands are to taste success in both the quarter-finals and beyond, Georgia Martell is likely to play a massive part. A regular between the sticks for the Patriots, the Queenslander has started all bar one of her 13 appearances this season, playing 1099 minutes and notching a save percentage of 0.863. Should Martell help lead the Patriots to a quarter-final win, a matchup with #2 seed Marian or #7 seed Tennessee Southern awaits. Cumberlands have faced both of these teams already this season, drawing 0-0 with Marian in a non-conference game and defeating Tennessee Southern 3-2 during Mid-South Conference regular season action.