Women’s soccer denied host bid, draws trip to face Cumberland
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- After wrapping up its second Sooner Athletic tournament title in four seasons, the John Brown University women's soccer team will travel to Lebanon, Tenn. to take on 16th-seeded Cumberland (Tenn.) in the NAIA National Championships Opening Round on Saturday (Nov. 19), the national office announced on Monday (Nov. 14) morning.
The Golden Eagles (18-1-1) dispatched Science & Arts (Okla.) in the tournament title match, earning JBU one of the ultimately 23 at-large berths. Seven at-large selections were made, according to the latest MRPI rating, and Mobile (Ala.) earned the host automatic berth.
Although John Brown finished the 2016 season ranked No. 14, two spots ahead of Cumberland, the final MRPI dictates the seedings and a team's rank in the NAIA National Coaches' Top-25 Poll is just a part of a team's MRPI percentage.
JBU will be making its fourth appearance in the National Championships, having most recently made the big dance just three years ago, falling to eighth-seeded Concordia (Calif.), 2-0. The Golden Eagles will be searching for its first-ever win on the big stage as JBU is 0-3-0 all-time.
The Golden Eagles are led in scoring by sophomores Jastin Redman and Aspen Robinson. The duo has each scored 18 goals this season while Redman has tallied one more assist (10) than Robinson. Senior Sara Lachance checks in with 22 points while juniors Sara Frey and Samantha Weber have each posted 12 on the season.
Patrolling the goal for John Brown is senior Kristen Morency (16-1-1), the program's all-time leader in wins (50), shutouts (37) and games played (76). The four-time SAC Goalkeeper of the Year boasts the seventh-best goals-against average in the nation (.430) and her 11 clean sheets is tied for third nationwide.
Head coach Kathleen Paulsen carries a 56-16-9 (.691) record into her second postseason trip and has been at the helm of the program for four seasons.
The Phoenix (12-4-2) claimed the final seeded slot at 16th finished second in the Mid-South Conference regular season and fell in the MSC tournament finals, 2-1, to No. 4 Lindsey Wilson (Tenn.).
Cumberlands received at-large bids to the Opening Round in 2013 and 2014 and earned an automatic berth in 2012 by virtue of winning the Mid-South Conference title. Cumberland has won all three of its previous Opening Round matches, advancing to the final site in 2012, 2013 and 2014, with home Opening Round victories in 2013 and 2014 while posting a 1-0 road win at Martin Methodist (Tenn.) in 2012.
Junior forward Emily Shires leads all Phoenix with 14 goals and 29 points while sophomore Rebecca Holloway has posted six goals and nine assists (21 points) this year, leading CU in helpers.
Sophomore Ashley Kambeitz has started all 18 contests in goal, and has recorded 9.1 shutouts this season. Kambeitz has allowed 14 goals against on 64 shots, posting a .760 goals-against average.
This season was head coach Adam Grant's first at the helm for Cumberland after spending the past three seasons as either in the assistant coach or graduate assistant roles.