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The Capital University women's soccer team will head to the University of Wisconsin Whitewater this weekend to face the University of Chicago in the first round of the 2013 NCAA Division III Tournament.
The first-round match will take place this Saturday, Nov. 16, at 7:30 p.m. Central time (8:30 p.m. Eastern). The winner of the Capital-Chicago match will take on the winner of Wisconsin-Whitewater and St. Scholastica (Minn.) in the second round on Sunday at 5 p.m. Central.
The Crusaders (16-4-1 overall) wrapped up the Ohio Athletic Conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and their fifth-ever bid to the NCAAs by winning their second OAC Tournament title in the last three years. Capital defeated John Carroll 4-0 in Sunday's championship match.
Chicago (11-4-3), a member of the University Athletic Association (UAA), received a Pool C, or at-large, bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Maroons saw their five-match unbeaten streak end with a 2-0 setback at No. 1 Washington (Mo.) University on Saturday in the team's regular season finale.
Chicago was receiving votes in the most recent NSCAA Division III Top 25 poll and was ranked fifth in the Central Region in the NCAA's latest regional rankings.
The Crusaders, who were ranked fifth in the Great Lakes Region, earned the program's first OAC regular season championship since 2004 by virtue of a 7-2 regular season league record, sharing the title with John Carroll. Capital garnered the No. 1 seed and home field advantage in the conference tournament by virtue of its victory over the Blue Streaks during the regular season.
After starting the regular season with a loss against then-No. 5 Carnegie Mellon and a tie at 2012 NCAA qualifier Penn State-Behrend, the Crusaders rattled off nine wins in their next 10 matches, including a 2-1 triumph in two overtimes at then-No. 14 Thomas More (Ky.) and 2-0 victory over co-champion John Carroll on Oct. 5. The team's only loss in that stretch came against Hanover, which enters the NCAA Tournament as the region's top-ranked team.
Following a 1-2 road trip, Capital won four straight to close the regular season, taking down cross-town rival Otterbein 1-0 in the finale on Nov. 2 to clinch their share of the championship.
After earning a bye to the OAC Tournament semifinals, the Crusaders knocked off the Cardinals again by an identical 1-0 score Thursday at Bernlohr Stadium. Senior midfielder Livvy Hein (Worthington, Ohio) provided the game-winning tally in the 15th minute, volleying a bouncing ball out of the air and into the side of the far post.
Capital finished its championship run Sunday against John Carroll, scoring twice in the first 17 minutes of play and adding a pair of insurance goals in the last 10 minutes of the match. Senior forward Hilary Ells (Grandview Heights, Ohio) made a great move to the inside off a throw-in from Hein in the fifth minute and finished at the near post for what proved to be the game-winner. Senior defender Lauren Roy (Toledo, Ohio), sophomore midfielder Allison Mervau (Micanopy, Fla.) and senior midfielder Katie Freshour (North Canton, Ohio) also added goals in the contest.
Sunday's win was also Capital's 11th shutout of the season and the sixth solo shutout for senior goalkeeper Maggie Donnellan (Cincinnati, Ohio).
Ells leads the team and the OAC with 14 goals, including six game-winners, and 28 points entering NCAA play. Freshman midfielder Becca Cartmill (Temecula, Calif.), who assisted on Roy's goal Sunday, leads the team and the league with 10 assists, a mark that also puts her among the nation's top 30, according to the latest national statistical rankings.
Sophomore forward Jamie Murray (West Palm Beach, Fla.) ranks second on the team with 20 points (eight goals, four assists), followed by Cartmill, who has three game-winning goals, with 18.
Mervau and Hein each have nine points for the season, while freshman midfielder Monique Hanayik (Sidney, Ohio) has seven. All three enter the NCAA Tournament with one game-winning goal.
Four other players on the team have between four and six points, including hard-working midfield starters Maura Fortino (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Claire Quinn (Coto de Caza, Calif.). Quinn has one game-winning goal, while Fortino converted a penalty kick goal during the regular season.
Donnellan, who has a 16-4-1 record with a 0.83 goals against average and a .858 save percentage, is protected by a veteran defensive line. Roy, seniors Michelle Geiger (Norwood, Ohio), Corey McClellan (Columbus, Ohio) and sophomore Mariah Richards (Canton, Ohio) have combined to miss just three matches this season as the starting back line.
Chicago is led offensively by Sara Kwan (24 points), Natalia Jovanovic (20) and Micaela harms (19). Goalkeeper Jacinda Reid, who has played in 11 matches and has a 5-3-3 record, leads the UAA with 5.91 saves per contest.
Capital and Chicago share one common opponent – Carnegie Mellon (Pa.). The Crusaders fell 3-2 against the Tartans back on Aug. 31 at Penn State Behrend, while the Maroons tied Carnegie Mellon 0-0 in two overtimes on the road.