The 2021 NCAA Division II Women’s Soccer Championship field is set and the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference champion Bemidji State University is in the mix. As the No. 3 seed in the Central Region, the Beavers drew sixth-seeded Central Oklahoma University in the opening round of play. The opening kick is set for 10 a.m. Friday at the ESU Soccer Pitch in Emporia, Kan.
The Beavers hold down the No. 6 spot in the most recent national rankings and tote an 18-1-2 record into the national tournament. BSU is led by Sara Wendt, who is tied for fifth in the country in goal scoring with a new career-best 19, which leaves her just one short of matching BSU great Rachael Norton for BSU’s single-season record. She also has a program-record eight game-winning goals to place her in a tie for second in the country. Fellow senior Ally Smith is second on the team in scoring with 20 points, which includes a team-best eight assists, and has three game-winners herself. Between the posts, Alyssa Stumbaugh has played the majority of the time (1,518:12) and is 16-1-1 with a 0.65 goals allowed average and .849 save percentage with nine shutouts. She is coming off back-to-back matches where she made eight saves for a new collegiate match-high.
The Beavers enter the NCAA Tournament as the NSIC top-scoring team at 2.35 goals per game, while they have allowed just 0.71 goals per match.
In its third appearance in the NCAA Tournament, the Beavers are 1-1-1 all-time. BSU earned a 0-0 tie with Augustana University in the opening round of the 2017 tournament but failed to advance in penalty kicks. The team hosted the Central Regional in 2018 and defeated Minot State University 3-1 to advance to the second round for the first time in program history. BSU was then defeated by defending national champion Central Missouri University, 2-0.
Friday’s opening round matchup marks the first time Bemidji State has met Central Oklahoma. The Beavers are 5-2-0 all-time versus team hailing from COU’s conference home Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA), which includes a 2-0-0 mark versus Northwest Missouri State University, which is on the other half of the Beavers’ sub-regional bracket, and a 0-1-1 record versus Central Missouri.
Making its 14th appearance in the NCAA Tournament, Central Oklahoma begins tournament play 13-5-2 overall and finished fourth in the MIAA with an 8-2-1 mark in league play and played its way into the conference semifinal. Monika McGee leads a Bronchos’ attack that is one of the MIAA’s most potent netting 1.85 goals per match. McGee has a team-best nine goals, which includes five game-winners. Not unlike BSU, UCO also boasts the league’s Defensive Player of the Year in Taryn Kedzoir. Kaitlyn Asher has been. A mainstay in goal for the Bronchos this year. The co-MIAA Goalkeeper of the year owns a 0.95 goals-against average with 64 saves and has 11 shutouts.