Lady Railsplitters earn No. 4 seed in NCAA Tournament
HARROGATE, Tenn. — The Lady Railsplitters will be dancing all the way to the Sunshine State.
The day after the Lincoln Memorial University women’s soccer team secured its second consecutive South Atlantic Conference Tournament championship and third since 2007, the champions learned their next stop of the journey.
Earning the No. 4 seed in the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional, the Lady Railsplitters (16-4) will travel to top-seeded, host Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida to face No. 5-seeded UNC Pembroke (14-4-1) for the first time in program history in the first round at 3 p.m. Friday.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to still be playing and competing,” LMU head coach Sean Fraser said. “Our team is excited, and we will be ready for an eventful weekend. I’m happy that our kids get to experience such excitement.”
LMU heads into the NCAA Tournament much like it did last season: red-hot. Riding on a seven-match winning streak dating back to Oct. 23, the Lady Railsplitters are clicking on all cylinders right now as they have scored 20 goals and have only allowed three with five being shutouts.
Responsible for much of that offensive firepower is the SAC Tournament MVP Thenia Zervas, who has six assists and three goals — with 17 assists and five goals on the season — over the last six matches while Jessica Cravero has nine goals over seven matches and 17 overall. In goal behind her strong defense, Emanuely Costa has made strides, accumulating 66 saves in 20 starts over the course of the season, including a season-high 11 saves versus Lenoir-Rhyne in the SAC Tournament semifinals to shutout the Bears for the second time.
The Braves and goalkeeper Gina Ryan are allowing 0.71 goals per match through 19 matches, which is just below the Lady Railsplitters’ 0.76. On the other hand, LMU averages 2.70 goals per match compared to UNC Pembroke’s 1.74 paced by Alexis Pittman and Rilee Seering’s eight and nine scores, respectively, along with Paula Valbuena’s six assists.
UNC Pembroke earns its fourth NCAA Tournament berth after falling in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament quarterfinal via a penalty shootout to Clayton State. The other teams within the Southeast Region include: No. 1 Flager, No. 2 Lenoir-Rhyne, No. 3 North Georiga, No. 6 Mount Olive, No. 7 Wingate and No. 8 Catawba. The winner of LMU versus the Braves will face the winner of Flagler and Catawba at 2 p.m. Sunday back at Saints Field.