PREVIEW | Grizzlies, Knights Set to Tangle in NCAA Tournament Opening Round Match

PREVIEW | Grizzlies, Knights Set to Tangle in NCAA Tournament Opening Round Match

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FRANKLIN, Ind. – On Saturday (Nov. 11) night, the Franklin College women's soccer team will hit the pitch in Pittsburgh, Pa. for their first ever NCAA Division III national tournament match.

The Grizzlies (14-4) are set to face off with Arcadia University (15-5) in the opening round on the NCAA Division III National Championship Tournament. Saturday night's match will be played on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University with kickoff set for 8:00 p.m.

Franklin earned their spot in the field of 64 after defeating Mount St. Joseph in the finals of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) tournament to earn the program's first HCAC title and an automatic bid into the national tournament.

The Grizzlies' high-powered offense is led by HCAC Offensive MVP Maddie Fleet, who was named HCAC Offensive MVP for the third year in a row in 2017. The Indianapolis-native has scored 25 goals and added six assists for 56 points, and was named MVP of the conference tournament after scoring in both contests. Senior Clare Lenart (seven goals) and sophomore Taylor McDaniel (five goals) have been capable scorers for the Grizzlies as well this year, teaming up for the conference-tournament winning goal last Saturday.

Sophomore goalkeeper Lexi Short has accounted for all of Franklin's 14 wins thus far. Short posted ten shutouts on the year, while holding a 0.84 goals-against average and a .863 save percentage. Short enters Saturday night's showdown on fire, having not allowed a goal in any of the last three matches while stopping the last 12 shots faced.

The Knights of Arcadia are set to make their second straight NCAA Division III Nation Championship Tournament after claiming their first-ever MAC Commonwealth Championship. Arcadia upset top-seeded and seventh-ranked Messiah 1-0 in the tournament Final.

Arcadia's attack is led by senior and MAC Commonwealth Offensive Player of the year Jess Kelly. Kelly topped the Knights with 18 goals, five assists and 41 points on the year. Veronica Garcia (eight goals) and Amanda McHugh (five goals) add depth scoring for a squad that averaged 2.70 goals per contest.

Defensively, the Knights have been a stingy unit in 2017, allowing just 18 goals on the year. Freshman goalkeeper Brianna Williams has accumulated 13 wins while holding a 0.89 goals-against average and a sparkling .837 save percentage.

The winner of the Franklin-Arcadia match will advance to the second round to play the winner of the Carnegie Mellon-Farmingdale State match on Sunday night at 7 p.m.                                                                                            

Links to follow the match live can be found at the top of the page.