It’s a skinny field of Aussies in this year’s NCAA Division I Tournament, with only three players across three different teams involved. However, all three teams have what it takes to make deep runs, and it would not be surprising to see all three make the Sweet Sixteen or even the Elite Eight should the cards fall their way. However, we may have to wait for the second week of the tournament to see any of the Aussies involved as national team call-ups, injuries, and the depth chart all conspire against our College Matildas playing in the opening couple of rounds.
(All Times AEDT)
NCAA Division I Tournament
Santa Clara (Holly Furphy)
First Round: v California – 8am, Sunday November 13
They may have done it the hard way, requiring a comeback win over Pepperdine on the final day, but Santa Clara once again secured the West Coast Conference championship and with it, the league’s auto-bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Broncos will welcome local rivals California, who will make the 45-mile trip from the East Bay to Buck Shaw Stadium for their opening round matchup. Already one of the tightest matchups on paper just from looking at the teams’ respective seasons, the fact that California come into the tournament on the back of a 1-1 draw with Stanford only serves to strengthen the idea that there may actually be no true underdog in this game. Unfortunately, we will not be seeing Holly Furphy on the pitch for the Broncos as the freshman continues to sit out after suffering a season-ending injury earlier in the campaign.
Stanford (Amy Sayer)
First Round: v San Jose State – 2pm, Saturday November 12
Stanford had looked for much of the season as though they were returning to their usual position in the upper echelon of women’s college soccer, and that idea was only given more credence when they knocked off #1 UCLA, a win that set up a run at the Pac-12 title. A final-day draw with California secured the outright championship, and the Cardinal will now face another Northern California team in their NCAA Tournament opener. San Jose State finished in a three-way tie atop the Mountain West standings, before defeating formerly Aussie-laden Wyoming in the championship game on penalties to secure the league’s auto-bid to the tournament. Stanford will be heavy favourites going into this one, but Amy Sayer will be relying on her teammates to get the job done if she is to play in the tournament as she is otherwise occupied for the opening two rounds – taking on Sweden and Thailand with the Matildas!
USC (Talia Grossman)
First Round: v UC Irvine – 8am, Sunday November 13
Finishing third in the Pac-12, USC’s win over local rivals and national title contenders UCLA on the final day of the regular season significantly strengthened their CV and earned the Women of Troy a #4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Their first-round matchup sees UC Irvine make the short trip up from Orange County after the Anteaters won the Big West title courtesy of a win over Aimee Medwin’s Long Beach State side in the championship game. USC are certainly favoured in this game, but like Stanford, beware the team playing with house money. UC Irvine have absolutely nothing to lose in this game, whilst a win would go down in Anteaters history. As per usual, it looks as though Anna Smith will be keeping Talia Grossman and the other goalkeepers on the USC roster perched firmly on the bench in this one, but one never knows what could happen throughout the game!
NCAA Division II Tournament
This year’s NCAA Division II Tournament features eight Aussies across seven schools, with teams littered throughout the seeding range from #2 to #8. Brianna Trappett’s Franklin Pierce side look to be the best chance of making a deep run in the tournament, but Imogen Noon and Southern New Hampshire will have plenty to say about that as they face off in the first round. Meanwhile, Holly Gray, Paige Taylor, and Gannon will be optimistic about their chances as a #3 seed, and there are plenty of upset-minded teams in the lower seeding range looking to invade an opponent’s turf and cause a boilover.
#2 Franklin Pierce (Brianna Trappett)
First Round: v #7 Southern New Hampshire – 10am, Saturday November 12
#3 Gannon (Holly Gray, Paige Taylor)
First Round: v #6 Fairmont State – 7am, Saturday November 12
#8 Jefferson (Olivia Riddel)
First Round: @ #1 Saint Rose – 5am, Saturday November 12
#5 Mississippi College (Erin Stamatopoulos)
First Round: v #4 Florida Southern – 1pm, Friday November 11
#7 Southern New Hampshire (Imogen Noon)
First Round: @ #2 Franklin Pierce – 10am, Saturday November 12
#8 Southwestern Oklahoma State (Ashley Hughes)
First Round: @ #1 Central Missouri – 6am, Saturday November 12
#5 West Virginia State (Emma Farrelly)
First Round: v #4 Bloomsburg – 5am, Friday November 11
NJCAA Division I National Championship
This year’s NJCAA Division I National Championship features five Aussies across three of the 12 teams. Intriguingly, Seminole State, the only one of the three who did not win a district championship, have secured the highest seed as they earned the #5 seed despite needing an at-large bid to reach the tournament. Laramie County may be the #11 seed and the lowest in their pool, but already knocked off Seminole State in the district championship, so they will have no qualms about facing any opponent. Salt Lake find themselves in a similar situation, and like Laramie County, will be only too happy to roll a couple of more fancied opponents as they look to advance to the knockout stage.
#11 Laramie County (Mattiese Loretan)
Pool Stage Game 1: v #2 Hill – 4:30am, Monday November 14
Pool Stage Game 2: v #7 Eastern Florida State – 4:30am, Tuesday November 15
#10 Salt Lake (Isabel Andrews, Amelia Suma)
Pool Stage Game 1: v #3 Butler – 7am, Monday November 14
Pool Stage Game 2: v #6 Monroe CC – 7am, Tuesday November 15
#5 Seminole State (Samantha Bayer, Shivani Battaglia)
Pool Stage Game 1: v #9 Iowa Western – 9:30am, Tuesday November 15
Pool Stage Game 2: v #4 Polk State – 9:30am, Wednesday November 16
NJCAA Division II National Championship
#9 Northeast (Chelsea Dolbel, Kailey Lincoln, Mackenzee Stokes)
Pool Stage Game 1: v #4 Northwest Mississippi – 9:30am, Tuesday November 15
Pool Stage Game 2: v #5 Pima – 9:30am, Wednesday November 16
Northeast rode roughshod over their opponents for much of the season on their way to a district championship, and despite being the #9 seed, will fancy their chances in the NCAA Division II National Championship. With six double-figure margins of victory in their 19-2-1 record, the Hawks appear to have little trouble scoring goals, and they will hope to reprise that form in Tucson. Whilst they may be one of the lower seeds, in a tournament featuring just 12 teams, there are absolutely no easy matches, and the Hawks will be out to remind their opponents of that as they look to go deep into the competition.
Campbellsville (Lauren Woodcock)
This week: v Tennessee Southern – 11am, Saturday November 12 (Mid-South Conference Championship)
Georgia Gwinnett (D’arne Boato)
This week: v USC Beaufort – 12pm, Saturday November 12 (Continental Athletic Conference Tournament Semi-Final)
Keiser (Georgia Little)
This week: v Southeastern – 3am, Saturday November 12 (The Sun Conference Championship)
LSU Alexandria (Elena McConnachie)
This week: v Houston-Victoria – 6:30am, Friday November 11 (Red River Conference Tournament Semi-Final)
Rio Grande (Saskia Vos)
This week: v IU Kokomo – TBA, Sunday November 13 (River States Conference Championship)