3 storylines to watch in the DII Women's Soccer Championships
The regular season is in the books, the conference tournaments complete. The DII Women's Soccer Championships are set to kick off this weekend.
There are plenty of storylines to follow in this big field, but here are three that should be on your radar in the early rounds.
Western Washington's quest to repeat
The Vikings saw its 39-game winning streak snapped in the regular season finale. Not only did it end a run for the ages, it also gave Concordia Portland the Great Northwest Athletic Conference regular season title.
Western Washington got its revenge, however. The Vikings headed to Portland, Oregon and won the GNAC Tournament, defeating Concordia Portland 1-0 in a double-overtime thriller.
The Vikings have no easy road ahead of them. Four ranked teams populate the West Region, including No. 3 UC San Diego, No. 23 Sonoma State and their old foes No. 17 Concordia Portland. But this team is battle tested, and with Sierra Shugarts holding down the defense and Gabriela Pelogi leading the charge on offense, the Vikings should be considered a threat to get to Swope Park this December.
Can Central Missouri run the table?
The Jennies are No. 1 in DII women's soccer for a reason. They are the last perfect team standing, their 21-0-0 record the best in DII.
Central Missouri claimed its fourth-straight Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association tournament title this past weekend. The Jennies have done it behind the third best scoring offense in DII, averaging over three goals a game.
Of course, there's also Ana Dilkes.
Dilkes has been a brick wall in net for her four-year tenure in Warrensburg, Missouri. This season, Dilkes started all 21 games, posting 18 shutouts. She went 12 games into the season before allowing a goal, and then allowed three all season. As long Abby Rhodes, Jada Scott, Baylie Edwards and company can manage to score one goal, Dilkes has proven she can handle the rest.
UC-Colorado Springs: The Mountain Lions not only have a fun mascot, but are also one of the feel-good stories of the season. They set their program record with 14 wins, and not only made it to their first Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championship game, the Mountain Lions won it. UC-Colorado Springs has quite the impressive resumé, including an earlier upset of then-No. 6 Colorado Mines.
Kutztown: The Golden Bears built off of a record-setting 2016 campaign by getting off to a 13-0 start before dropping two in a row. Along the way, they captured the program's first-ever No. 1 ranking. KU lost to an East Stroudsburg team twice this season, once in the PSAC semi-finals on East Stroudsburg's way to a record fourth-straight championship. With postseason experience and a fire started, the Golden Bears could make some noise.
Missouri Western: The Griffon's made it all the way to the MIAA Championship game for the first time in program history, and are now making their first trip to the NCAA postseason. What makes them a sleeper? They are one of three teams to score a goal on Ana Dilkes this season.