Maryville College Women's Soccer learned their destination for the program's 10th NCAA Tournament bid on Monday afternoon, as the Scots will travel to St. Louis, Mo. to face Washington University in St. Louis.
MC earned the USA South Athletic Conference's automatic bid this weekend, as Maryville tallied a 5-0 win over Covenant College in the league's championship match.
Washington University in St. Louis finished the regular season ranked No. 3 by the United Soccer Coaches. Both of the First- and Second-Round matches will be played at WashU, as Maryville will face off with the Bears at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 16.
"I think the thing that is different about this group – I've been thinking on it and reflecting on it after they played so well this weekend – is they've been able to bring a different type of energy every single day," Head Coach Pepe Fernandez said. "It's been fun to go to practice. At some point, they're seeing the same drill, they're on the same field, and they've got the same boring coach. All the things are the same, but they've able to bring an energy – something I can't really describe with other than the word energy – to practice every single day. They've been able to translate that to the games. It's made it a fun year."
Fernandez said for his squad, it was just coming to work. Instead, they were having fun, which raised the level of play all season.
Maryville College finished the year with a 15-4 overall mark, as the Scots went 8-0 in USA South play. MC stretched that mark to 11-0 with a sweep of the conference tournament.
The Scots are riding an 11-match win streak, while winning 13 of their last 14. The only loss in the run came to Emory University – a nationally-ranked squad at the time – as MC started the season with a 4-4 record.
"It's crazy," USA South Player of the Year Shannon Reagan said of the NCAA bid. "It's something that I could have never imagined. If you'd told me over the summer that everything this season would happen, I would have said, 'Oh, you're crazy. I don't believe you.' It's just truly incredible, especially being my senior year."
Maryville has missed out on the tournament the past three seasons, despite tallying the squads third-straight USA South Western Division title this year. Maryville fell in the USA South Quarterfinals in 2016, before facing a 2-1 loss in overtime of the Semifinals two years ago.
Last season, the Scots fell 1-0 in the conference's championship bout, before securing a spot on the national bracket with a championship run this year.
"We've come so close too many times, and it makes it that much better here at the end," Reagan said. "We've worked so hard, and we're finally here."
MC went 22-0-1 versus league opponents in the regular season over the past three years.
For Reagan, that gave the Scots a comradery to keep the streak alive.
"It's helped us build our game," Reagan said. "It's helped us build team chemistry, which is a huge part of soccer. We only lost one senior last year. Having more time to build that chemistry and really learn how each other plays has helped us get here."
The USA South Player of the Year lead the league in goals (21), assists (11) and points (53) this year, as sophomore Taylor Frizen was right behind her. Frizen posted 15 goals, eight assists and 38 points. She ranked second in the USA South to Reagan in all those categories, except assists, where teammate Lexie Hill had nine.
Frizen was tabbed the league's Tournament MVP for her efforts during the championship run.
"We've always had good teams here," Fernandez said. "When you look at it and when you get out there, you can always organize your teams and make them competitive. What you need is special players. Those two – along with a couple others – have been special players. In soccer, if you watch it long enough, you can see that the margin of error is very slight in winning and losing games. What it usually comes down to is special players making special plays. We've seen those two do it all year long"
The No. 3 Bears finished the season 15-1-2 overall, capping the regular season with a 1-1 draw against No. 16 Chicago in University Athletic Association play. In UAA action, Washington University went 6-0-1 to finish as the Regular Season Champions to earn the NCAA bid.
WashU averaged 2.41 goals per game, as they are led by Taylor Cohen's nine goals and eight assists. Six Bears have three goals or more on the season.
"I know they play on turf," Fernandez said. "I know they have a great tradition and reputation. They played Emory tough, and they're in a tough conference. We're just excited to go somewhere different. We haven't been up there. We've been to Texas. We've been to Messiah, and we've seen a lot of different places with both teams over the years. It's exciting to go to a new place – at least for the coaching staff – and the players looked like they were excited. We encourage them to go up there and play without any fear. You're going to have to beat some good teams in this tournament at some point, and it looks like we're going to have to play a top team right off the bat. Hopefully, if you do, you can just keep rolling on."
Maryville has averaged 4.00 goals per game this season, while holding a 0.57 goals allowed average. MC takes 22.6 shots per game, while managing 76 goals in 19 contests.
Follow mcsots.com and @MCScots on social media for updates on the tournament's schedule.