CAMBRIDGE, MA. -- The Lesley Women's Soccer Team has earned an automatic entry to the NCAA Division III Women's Soccer Tournament after defeating Elms College in a penalty shootout in the NECC Championship game on Saturday.
It was revealed in the NCAA's Selection Show on Monday afternoon that the Lynx will face off against Messiah College in the first round of the tournament. Messiah, based out of Mechanicsburg, PA, went 18-1-1 overall and 7-0-1 in the MAC Commonwealth Conference. The Falcons defeated Arcadia 3-0 in the MAC Championship to earn their seventeeth conference title. Messiah will host the first and second round games for their section of the 64 team bracket.
The Lynx are now at 14-3-2 overall after their NECC Championship win and enter their third straight NCAA tournament and seventh in the past eight seasons. Senior goalkeeper Brittley Gaan held off Elms in the championship shootout, the Lynx were able to earn a tournament bid as conference champs.
Lesley will go up against a Falcons team that has won five NCAA DIII titles, with their most recent coming in 2012. The Falcons have been in the tournament twenty times in their history and won their titles between 2005 and 2012. They boast a tough back line, led by keeper Lydia Ewing. Ewing and backup Courtney Dunlop allowed only six goals all year, good for a 0.30 goals against average in their twenty games. The Falcons offense scored 74 goals and was led by Brooke Firestone. Firestone had nineteen goals, including eight game-winners, and five assists this season to score 43 points. Ellie Lengacher was another key offensive piece for Messiah, netting nine goals and thirteen assists.
The Lynx have a strong defense of their own, led by Gaan and senior captains Melanie Mathewson and Hope Seasholes. First Team All-NECC sophomores Kerrie Larson and Sophie Smurthwaite complete the group that held a 0.99 goals against average in nineteen games this season. Gaan allowed thirteen goals in eleven games, while backups Jill Narby and Remme Hasley allowed four between them. The Lynx scored 54 goals of their own, an average of three per game. Alexandria Torres led the way with nine, while Claire Hounslow added seven and Tayla Mayberry and Chloe Kouyoumdjian each had six. Kouyoumdjian added six assist, second on the team behind Larson's seven.
The first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament will be held at local sites this weekend. The sectional winners will move on to the semifinals on December 6th, with the championship game following on December 7th. The final two rounds will take place at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro Soccer Stadium.
The full bracket can be seen on the NCAA's website, along with a replay of the selection show, statistics, and overall rankings.