Women’s soccer team selected for first NCAA postseason berth in program history

Mariah Nicolet, senior midfielder, celebrates with her teammates. Nicolet and the RiverHawks will be fighting against 55 other teams for the title of NCAA champions.

Following a heartbreaking loss during penalty kicks to Central Oklahoma in the MIAA championship, the future of NSU’s women’s soccer team was uncertain. Had they defeated UCO, they would have received an automatic bid into the NCAA postseason, but with the loss, they had to hope that their 14-4-3 record would get them invited. On Monday night, the uncertainty for the team turned into excitement as NSU was invited to their first NCAA postseason in program history.

“I think overall the team is super emotional,” said Sarah Rector, senior midfielder. “We are doing something that no other NSU Women’s soccer team has ever done. We are oozing with pride and excitement as a program right now. There are a lot of nerves that come with this but I think we are ready to go. This is something you dream about doing as a college athlete and to finally be able to do it is an incredible feeling.”

A total of 56 teams are invited to this tournament. NSU was awarded the sixth seed of the Central Region of the tournament. This region contains two other Oklahoma teams, with UCO being awarded the sixth seed and Southwestern Oklahoma being awarded the seventh. NSU will have to power their way through six different matches in order to be named champion and Chase Wooten, women’s soccer head coach, believes that sticking to their guns gives them the best chance to be successful.

“We use what we call ‘team DNA’ and play our own game each week,” said Wooten. “We occasionally make small tweaks to match our opponents, but we try to not leave our own system if possible.”

Emotions are very high on the team right now. The team has been working hard all season for an opportunity like this, and now with this invitation, they dream to make the most out of it. Mariah Nicolet, senior midfielder, believes that this team is something special.

“I could not be more proud of this team,” said Nicolet. “What some people forget is we started working for this in January. I’m so proud and feel so blessed to be on a team that can push their hardest and works relentlessly towards a goal that’s so far away, but that’s right in front of our face now. I’m so proud to be a part of this program and I know there’s no other team I’d rather face all of the highs and lows with. These girls are special.”

Of all the success that the team has garnered this year, Wooten attributes much of it to the relationships and chemistry that the team has with one another. Many of them have been playing together for several years now and have grown to be a hard-working, high-power force to be reckoned with. 

“Saying that I am proud of this group would be the understatement of the year,” said Wooten. “We have won so many close games this season because this team bought into the process of hard work and we always plan to outwork our opponents for 90 minutes. They are a special group of friends and players that create really high standards for one another and I cannot take credit for that. They chose to be special.”

NSU will play Concordia Saint Paul in the first round of the NCAA postseason at 10 a.m. on Nov. 22 at the South Recreation Complex in Warrensburg, Miss.

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