Best year in soccer program history earns NCAA Tournament bid

Best year in soccer program history earns NCAA Tournament bid

November 15, 2013

After losing in a penalty shootout in the 2012 Great South Championship Game, last year, the Salem College Soccer Team stormed through the 2013 season with their best year in program history. Now, Salem will travel to Thomas More College in Northern Kentucky to take on Hanover College of Indiana in the first round of the NCAA Division III Tournament. The two teams will play on Saturday, Nov. 16, at 11:00 a.m. Hanover was recently ranked twenty-fourth in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) National Poll.

"We waited for a full year, after that heartbreaking championship loss, to get another shot," said Head Coach Jay Callahan. "We had a great run through conference play, and we controlled the championship for the entire ninety minutes."

The Salem Spirits are currently 15-3-2 overall, and they are on a ten-game win streak. They dominated Great South conference play with a 7-0 record, and they outscored their opponents 33-0 in conference regular season and tournament play. The Spirits capped it all off with a 2-0 win at home in the GSAC Championships against Agnes Scott to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Salem will play without Stephanie Hubbard (Sanford, NC), who was selected as the 2013 Great South Player of the Year. She tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the final game of the regular season. MacKenzie Schmidt (Columbus, OH) recently broke both the records for all-time points and assists for the program. Tarryn Bundy (West Deptford, NJ), Morgan Canepa (Elko, NV) Sawyer Ferguson (Billings, MT), Nataly Mojica (Dallas, TX), Taylor Norman (Fairfax, VA) joined Hubbard and Schmidt on the GSAC All-Conference Team. Courtney Hedgecock (San Diego, CA) was selected as the GSAC Tournament Most Valuable Player. Callahan was honored as the GSAC Coach of the Year for the second straight year and improved his overall record to 92-44-8.

"It will be tough playing without Steph, but we did it through the GSAC Tournament," said Callahan. "We will need to rely heavily on our defense and Paige Ketchum in goal, as they will be more tested than they have been all year."

Hanover is currently 17-1-2 and they won the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) Regular Season and Tournament Titles. Hanover is led by forward, Anna Cornacchione, who led the team in goals and points and was the HCAC Offensive Player of the Year and Tournament Most Valuable Player. Rachel Alvis, Chloe Hutchinson, Paige Byers, Morgan Cole, Megan Insley and Elaine Simpson were all HCAC All-Conference selections. 

"We will go into Saturday's game as a major underdog," said Callahan. "We feel that if we play our game to the best of our ability that we will be able to give Hanover a real run."

Hanover goes into the Thomas More Regional as the top seeded team. On the other side of the bracket, Thomas More will play Allegheny of Pennsylvania. The two winners will play on Sunday at 1:30 at Thomas More. 

November 14, 2013, by Salem Athletics