Women's Soccer Charged Up For NCAA Tournament

Women's Soccer Charged Up For NCAA Tournament

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Fresh off its first North Atlantic Conference title since 2012, the Castleton women's soccer team is set to square off against nationally-ranked Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Engineers' Steinbrenner Stadium.

Admission will be $6 for adults, $3 for senior citizens/students, and $2 for children ages 3-12. 

Castleton (11-7-2) is coming off a riveting conference championship as Bronwen Hopwood scored the lone goal of the match in double overtime to down Husson, 1-0, and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in program history. Featuring just three seniors, the young Spartan squad is unbeaten in its last six matches and 7-2-1 since Oct. 1, with tough losses to No. 6 Williams and No. 17 Middlebury.

Castleton enters the postseason averaging 2.50 goals per game offensively. NAC Rookie of the Year Rylee Nichols has led the team thus far, netting 14 goals and contributing three assists for 31 total points. Sophomore Makenzi Bellando has two goals in her last three games and sits second on the team in scoring with 10 goals and six assists. Freshman Julia Carone and Hopwood – a pair of Second Team All-NAC selections – have combined for 13 goals and nine assists.

The Spartan back line is anchored by First Team All-NAC selection Kaitie Sanders and Senior Scholar Athlete of the Year Kate Steller, who have helped post six shutouts and a 1.25 goals-against average for the season. Senior keeper Kiley Baran is 11-3-1 in goal with a stellar 0.88 goals-against average and .849 save percentage and was named Second Team All-Conference with four shutouts in 15 starts.

No. 13 MIT (18-1-1) clinched the NEWMAC Tournament title with a 2-0 victory over Springfield in the championship game. The Engineers, currently ranked second in New England, are making their seventh appearance in the NCAA bracket. 

Offensively, MIT is averaging 3.45 goals per game. Olivia Struckman has 29 points on 13 goals and three assists, while Emily Berzolla and Amy Apostol have combined for 14 goals and 19 assists thus far. Lily Mueller is 17-1-1 in goal with a 0.58 goals-against average. The Engineers' lone loss on the season came on the road at No. 6 Williams.

The two squads faced two common opponents this season: Williams and Thomas. Castleton fell to Williams, 5-0, while the Engineers were defeated, 1-0. Castleton blanked Thomas, 4-0, while MIT beat the Terriers, 7-0. This will be the first-ever match between the two teams.