After claiming the SCIAC title on Saturday, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women’s soccer team earned itself a spot in the Division III NCAA tournament. The CMS Athenas, who finished 10-8-3 overall and 7-5-2 in SCIAC, will take on 12th-ranked Hardin-Simmons University this Saturday, Nov. 16, at California Lutheran University in the tournament’s opening round. Hardin-Simmons will be a challenge for CMS, but after back-to-back upset wins over Pomona-Pitzer and California Lutheran University, the Athenas seem to have discovered a new spark in the home stretch of their season.
The Athenas entered the SCIAC tournament as the third seed, behind P-P and top-seeded Cal Lu. Having lost both regular season match-ups with the Sagehens, it appeared that the SCIAC title would come down to P-P and Cal Lu. The Athenas had other plans, however, as they defeated the Sagehens 1-0 on Thursday before travelling to Cal Lu and defeating the Regals by the same score on Saturday.
Although CMS is somewhat of an underdog, the NCAA tournament is not new territory for CMS women’s soccer. The program has five NCAA tournament berths in its history, the most recent of which came in 2009 when the Athenas went undefeated in SCIAC play, but lost to Hardin-Simmons 3-1 in the second round of the tournament. In its five trips to the tournament, CMS is 2-4-1 overall.
Goalkeeper Hannah Dunham CM ’14 has been at the heart of the team’s late-season run. In the past six games, Dunham has allowed only three goals, anchoring the Athenas’ defensive play, which has been some of the stingiest in the country down the stretch. Her .857 save rate ranks first in SCIAC, and her 78 saves rank second. The Athenas’ most consistent offensive threat so far this season has been Isabel Lester CM ’15, the speedy midfielder who leads CMS with five goals on the season. Midfielder Shandra Ullman CM ’14 and defenders Megan Patterson CM ’16 and Samantha Kunz ’15 have led the way for the Athenas, and were recently named Second-Team All-SCIAC selections. Midfielder and defender Hannah Rosenberg CM ’17 was named SCIAC Newcomer of the Year and figures to be a key component of CMS’ success in the playoffs.
The Athenas’ match-up with Hardin-Simmons will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Rolland Stadium.