The regular season for college soccer officially came to a close this past Sunday, but seven Shattuck-St. Mary's alumnae will extend their season by at least one more game. Each year 64 teams qualify for the single elimination NCAA Division I Women's Soccer Tournament, with this year's final to be played in San Jose, California.
Darian Powell, a red-shirt senior at Marquette, leads her team into the first round against in-state rival Wisconsin. The La Porte City, Iowa native has overcome several injuries to play an important role during her final season of college eligibility and will be looking to help her team get past the Badgers to keep her college career going just a little longer. Powell has 4 goals and 1 assist on the season.
Alabama State sophomore Emily Fleming joins her team in an historic first ever NCAA Tournament appearance. The Hornets qualified by virtue of their Southwest Athletic Conference Tournament final victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Hailing from Fall River, Nova Scotia, Fleming has been a valuable member of the team contributing 5 goals and 2 assists so far. The Hornets face a tough test in the first round when they travel to number one seeded South Carolina.
Also from the SSM class of 2015 is Olivia Gauthier who helped her Memphis Tigers return to the NCAA Tournament after missing out last year. The St. John, New Brunswick defender has started every game in her first two years at Memphis and served as team captain this year as a sophmore. She has proven to be a defensive mainstay in coach Brooks Monaghan's line up and will again have to play a crucial role to help overcome their border rival Arkansas in the first round match up.
It's not just the verteran college players who will be seeing post-season action, three members from the most recent SSM graduating class will be lining up in a win or go home scenario for their schools. Tiernny Wiltshire will be looking to help Rutgers return to the College Cup national semi-finals where they were eliminated last year by eventual national champions Penn State. The Elmer, New Jersey native has featured in 18 of the Scarlet Knights' 21 matches so far this season, primarily playing as a fullback. Rutgers will host Ivy League champion Harvard in a first round game this Saturday.
A trio of Sabres have helped propel Illinois State back to the NCAA Tournament after a one year absence. Angel Krell, who appeared in last year's NCAA Tournament when she was at Auburn, has transferred her experience to the Redbirds, while freshmen Mikayla Unger and Haley Smith have also played pivotal roles in the team's success. While they face a tough test in the first round when they travel to Michigan, the Redbirds are not stranger to tough competition as they have already played ACC champions Notre Dame, Big 10 champions Northwestern and Big East champions Marquette.
In addition to the NCAA tournament bids, four Sabre alumnae captured post-season conference awards from their respective leagues. Unger walked away with the biggest award when she was named the Missouri Valley Conference Freshman of the Year as well as earning a spot on the All-Freshman Team and Second Team All-Conference.
Smith also captured accolades for the Redbirds being names MVC All-Conference Honorable Mention and to the MVC All-Freshman Team. Gauthier was tabbed as a Second Team American Athletic Conference selection while Kennedy Ulrich, a senior at UNC-Wilmington, was selected to the Colonial Athletic Conference All-Academic Team.