The University of Scranton women's soccer team is no stranger to the NCAA Division III Tournament. The Royals are making their third straight appearance and the 18th in program history as they prepare to take on Arcadia in a first-round match on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va.
Scranton (15-1-3) earned an at-large bid to the tournament after battling Susquehanna to a 1-1 draw in double overtime in the Landmark Conference championship. The River Hawks claimed the title in a penalty shootout. The Royals are making their seventh NCAA Tournament appearance under head coach Colleen Pivirotto.
The Royals have been dominant all season, outscoring opponents 49-7. They enter the NCAA Tournament ranked 11th in the nation in goals-against average at 0.356 and senior goalkeeper Colleen Berry (Ridgewood, N.J./Ridgewood) is ranked 14th in the nation in goals-against average, also at 0.356, and 16th in save percentage at 0.897.
Offensively, Scranton led the Landmark Conference and is ranked 67th national in scoring at 2.58 goals per game. Senior forward Jamie Hreniuk (West Caldwell, N.J./James Caldwell) leads the squad with 10 goals while three other players – senior midfielder Erica Licari (Saint James, N.Y./Smithtown East), sophomore forward Corinne McDonald (Chalfont, Pa./Central Bucks South) and sophomore midfielder Erin Toburen (Harleysville, Pa./Lansdale Catholic) – have six each. All six of Licari's goals have been game-winners.
Scranton boasts six all-conference selections, led by junior defender Rebecca Russo (South Windsor, Conn./South Windsor), who was named Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team choice. Berry, Hreniuk and Toburen all earned first-team honors while Licari and freshman defender Hope Drewes (Yardley, Pa./Pennsbury) were second-team choices. Pivirotto was also named Coach of the Year for the fourth time in her career.
Arcadia (12-5-3) also received an at-large bid to the tournament after suffering a 1-0 loss in double overtime to third-ranked Messiah in the MAC Commonwealth championship. The Knights are just 2-3-1 in their last six games, but two of the three losses were to teams that reached the NCAA Tournament and the tie was a scoreless draw against Messiah.
The Knights have outscored opponents 38-17 this season and have posted eight shutouts. Their marquee win came on Sept. 15 when they defeated then-19th-ranked Misericordia, 1-0, at home.
Junior midfielder Veronica Garcia leads Arcadia with seven goals and 15 total points. Sophomore forward Erin Vander Plaat has six goals and sophomore defender Jules Oswald has five to round out the team's top scorers. Sophomore goalkeeper Brianna Williams has allowed 13 goals for a 0.67 goals-against average and has made 64 saves for a 0.831 save percentage while posting seven shutouts.
Arcadia had seven players earn all-MAC Commonwealth honors, led by freshman defender Brianna Crowley, who was named Rookie of the Year and first team. Senior defender Veronica Pontis also made the first team, while Garcia, Vander Plaat, Oswald and senior defender Stephanie Maggio earned second-team honors. Junior defender Bridget Sway received honorable mention accolades.
This is just the second meeting ever between Scranton and Arcadia. The teams met in the regular season in 2012 and played to a scoreless draw in double overtime.
Saturday night's other first-round match pits the host school, 11th-ranked Christopher Newport (17-1-0) against Staten Island (12-6-0). The winners of Saturday's first-round matches will meet in a second-round match on Sunday at 6 p.m. at Christopher Newport.
Tickets for each day are $6 for adults and $3 for children. Live stats for all matches are available at https://www.cnusports.com/sidearmstats/wsoc/summary and live video is available at https://www.cnusports.com/watch/?Live=38&type=Live.
To see the complete NCAA Division III Women's Soccer Tournament bracket, visit https://www.ncaa.com/brackets/soccer-women/d3/2018.