Women’s soccer heads to NCAAs

For the first time since 2009, it’s time to go dancing for the Geneseo women’s soccer team. The Knights topped SUNY Cortland 1-0 in an incredible SUNYAC Tournament Championship game on Saturday Nov. 8. The game was tied after 89 minutes, but freshman midfielder/forward Leah Greene netted the game winner with just seconds to play. “[I] had already started to make decisions about what we were going to do as a team once we did score,” head coach Nate Wiley said. “I was happy and then immediately [thought] ‘OK, these are the changes we need to make.’”

The biggest outcome from Geneseo’s win is an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Women’s Soccer Tournament. The Knights are one of 64 teams to make the tournament to decide who will be the national champions.

The first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament will be played at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland for the Knights. In the first round, Geneseo will play Frostburg State University. Frostburg State––in Frostburg, Maryland––is a similarly sized school to Geneseo with 4,704 undergrads. Academically, it’s 111 places behind Geneseo in the U.S. News & World Report North Regional Universities rankings.

Soccer-wise, however, Frostburg State is pretty good––the Bobcats are 13-4-5 so far this season. But against Carnegie Mellon University, the only nationally-ranked team they’ve played, they lost 3-0. Geneseo is also ranked 19 in the country for NSCAA Coaches.

“Once we knew who we were playing, I started reaching out to some coaches to see what we’re in for,” Wiley said. One thing the Knights will have to prepare for is Frostburg senior forward Stephanie Fazenbaker. Fazenbaker has led the Bobcats in scoring the past two seasons and was second on the team in scoring in her freshman and sophomore years. Despite the offensive threat that she brings, Wiley is not concerned about his team’s ability to shut her down.

“Anytime we’ve had a player that we thought was a dangerous attacking player or goal scorer, [we’ve been] aware of her,” he said. “We’ve done a good job defending as a team and we haven’t had to necessarily account for the player further than understanding what it is about her that makes her good.”

Should the Knights beat the Bobcats, they would face the winner of Johns Hopkins vs. Farmingdale State College on Sunday Nov. 16. Interestingly, Farmingdale State is part of the State University of New York system, but is not part of SUNYAC.

Despite the excitement of the upcoming match, Wiley is confident that his team will be able to remain focused. “It’s similar to how we play our conference games during the year,” he said. “Our training is geared toward the first opponent with the knowledge of ‘this is what the other two teams do.’ We don’t talk about those other teams until after our first game.”

The bus leaves for Maryland on Friday morning as the Knights begin the last part of their quest to get the first women’s soccer title in school history.