WOMEN’S SOCCER: At-large bid puts SMSU in

INDIANAPOLIS – The Southwest Minnesota State University women’s soccer team received an at-large bid and will travel to Mankato for the first round of the NCAA Division II Central Region Tournament on Friday.

The Mustangs, the No. 5 seed, and will take on No. 4 seed Central Missouri at 1 p.m.

SMSU is making its first NCAA Tournament appearance in the program’s 18-year history. The Mustangs are 14-3-2 overall, while the Jennies also enter the tournament with a record of 14-3-2.

“This is an exciting occasion for our team,” Southwest Minnesota State head coach T.J. Buchholz said.

Despite its outstanding record, SMSU finished the regular season by going 3-3-2 in its last eight matches. Buchholz would like to the Mustangs finish more of their scoring chances.

“We have had a tough couple of games, but now we have an opportunity to be in the NCAA?Tournament,” Buchholz said. “We need to make the most of it and not take it for granted.

“To be successful, we have to do what we do best on Friday,” Buchholz said. “In the last couple games, we haven’t been as good with what we do well. We’re getting a lot of good looks at the net, but we’re just not scoring.”

The Mustangs have been shutout in their last four matches, despite allowing only two goals during that span. SMSU has outscored its opponents 34-11 this season.

UCM has a 2-1-1 mark versus Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference teams this season. The Jennies beat University of Mary (5-2) and Minot State (2-0), tied Winona State (0-0) and lost to Minnesota State (3-0).

The winner of the Southwest Minnesota State/Central Missouri match will face No. 1 seed Minnesota State (17-2-2) at 2 p.m. Sunday in Mankato.

On the other side of the Central Region bracket, No. 6 seed Southwest Baptist (14-5-1) faces No. 3 seed Winona State (15-3-2) also on Friday. The winner of that match takes on No. 2 seed Minnesota Duluth (15-3) on Sunday. Both matches will take place in Duluth, Minn.

The third round and national quarterfinals will take place Nov. 22 and Nov. 24 at a site to be determined. The semifinals and national championship will be held Dec. 5-7 in Evans, Ga.