Players on The University’s women’s soccer team were ecstatic to learn that their team had earned an at-large bid in the NCAA Division III Tournament.
After losing the Landmark Conference Championship game to Drew University in a shootout Saturday, the Royals were in need of a little help to get into the tournament. An at-large bid is awarded by the NCAA to teams the association feels deserve a berth in the playoffs.
At 15-2-3 on the season, the Royals go into the tournament just as dangerous as any other team. The girls will look to prove that when they travel to Middlebury, Vt. to play Endicott College Saturday in the first round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
Junior Andrea Ricketti, who started all 16 games before a season-ending injury, said she was very excited when she heard news of her team reaching the tournament.
“We had an incredible season with 15 wins, three ties and two losses. Having the chance to advance to the NCAA tournament is what we deserve after our efforts this season. We didn’t get the results we wanted in the conference championship, but this game will allow us to continue to work toward what we want,” Ricketti said.
The Royals have proven to be dangerous when the team starts to put together a winning streak, and that was never more evident than this season when the team strung together 13 wins in a row. From Sept. 7 until Oct. 19, the Royals won every game they played.
“Our 13-game winning streak was something incredible to be a part of,” Ricketti said. “There were a handful of victories we came back in the final seconds of the game and in overtime. Our back line, including our goalie, has been incredibly solid this season, only allowing a few goals against. Our midfield offered a great transition from the back to the forwards. The forwards and wingers capitalized on a plethora of opportunities.”
Senior goalkeeper Kelsy McAnelly has been spectacular in goal for the Royals this season, allowing only 15 goals while saving 51. She also added seven shutouts to her resume this season, providing a backbone for this team.
The Royals are 7-11-4 all time in the NCAA Division Tournament with two quarterfinal appearances in 2001 and 2003. This is a different team, however, and the Royals are confident going into the tournament.
“The team is thrilled to have the chance to keep playing and advance our season,” Ricketti said. “Our charisma will propel us forward. I think we will do pretty well, but I don’t want to jinx anything. As a team we need to continue to win the 50/50 balls out of the air. Capitalizing on our opportunities early in the game will be a pivotal factor to us being successful this weekend.”
Located in Beverly, Mass., Endicott earned an automatic bid in the tournament when it won the Commonwealth Coast Conference over Gordon College. The Gulls are 15-5-2 on the season.
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