The NCAA Division II tournament field is selected strictly along regional guidelines. Six teams comprise the North bracket and six teams fill the South bracket. The selection committee must choose six teams from each region and those teams must be placed within their corresponding regional bracket. The committee may not attempt to bring competitive balance to the brackets by moving North teams into the South bracket or vice versa.

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PHOTO COURTESY OF REGIS ATHLETICS

Jada Bonner leads Regis with 83 draw controls and 36 caused turnovers to go with her 25 goals and 15 assists.

Five DII Women's Teams Earn First NCAA Bids, But Beware the Big Four


The NCAA Division II tournament field is selected strictly along regional guidelines. Six teams comprise the North bracket and six teams fill the South bracket. The selection committee must choose six teams from each region and those teams must be placed within their corresponding regional bracket. The committee may not attempt to bring competitive balance to the brackets by moving North teams into the South bracket or vice versa.

While there are some strong favorites in this year’s field, there is also the freshness of five teams that earned their first NCAA berths.


While the North bracket was pretty predictable, the South Region had seven viable candidates for six spots.


The Favorites

Adelphi (18-1 overall) was selected as the No. 1 seed in the North Region and Lindenwood (20-1) is the number one seed in the South Region. 

Last Team In

Regis

This is hard to determine given the regional nature of the Division II tournament. The easy place to look is at the two No. 6 seeds, NYIT in the North, and Florida Tech in the South, but in truth, they may not have been the last teams into the field. It’s likely that Regis, which earned the No. 4 seed in the South, may have been that team and sealed its bid by upsetting Lindenwood in Sunday’s lightning-delayed Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championship game.

First Team Out

Limestone

While the North bracket was pretty predictable, the South Region had seven viable candidates for six spots. Regis’ upset of Lindenwood probably cost Limestone its spot in the South bracket. With a 17-3 overall record and its 10th Conference Carolinas championship in 2017, Limestone can probably make the strongest case among bubble teams that it should have been invited, although the Saints were only 1-2 against teams in the field.

Toughest Draw

NYIT

It’s easy to make a case that first-year program NYIT, in the North bracket, has the toughest potential road to the championship. The No. 6 seed Bears open with a rematch against ECC champion LIU Post in the first round, and would face No. 2 seed Le Moyne in the second round. If they were to upset Le Moyne at home, they would then likely face No. 1 seed Adelphi in the semifinals.

Upset Alert

East Stroudsburg

Based on the seedings, we’ll regard any game where the lower seed beats the higher seed as an upset. On that premise, either first-round game in the South bracket could see the higher seed fall. The game between No. 6 seed Florida Tech and No. 3 East Stroudsburg features two teams playing in their first NCAA tournament games in program history. Although the game is being played on neutral turf on the campus of Florida Southern, that’s a field that FIT has already played on twice this season, so the locals may have the edge.

Revenge Fuel

NYIT

In the North bracket, the first round game between No. 3 seed LIU Post and No. 6 NYIT is a rematch of their ECC game played on April 29. LIU Post earned a 12-11 overtime victory that day with senior Brianna LeCompte scoring the game-winner for the Pioneers in the extra session. NYIT will get its chance to even the score when the two teams, which are located just half a mile apart on Long Island, meet again on Friday in Syracuse.








Players To Watch

Hunter Isnardi, Mercy, So. M

If No. 5 seed Mercy has any hopes of making a run in the North bracket, it will need the ECC’s Offensive Player of the Year to continue her season-long excellence. Isnardi leads the nation with 9.71 draw controls per game, and is second in scoring in the ECC with 66 goals. 

Jacqueline Jahelka, Adelphi, Sr. M

Adelphi’s senior midfielder may be the most dynamic player in the tournament. The two-time NE-10 Player of the Year led the league with 62 goals scored and was second in total points, with 85. With 271 career goals, she now ranks as Adelphi’s all-time leader.

Hannah George, Le Moyne, Fr., G

It’s been quite a season for the freshman who started every game for the Dolphins and was tabbed as the NE-10’s Goalkeeper of the Year.  She ranks among the national leaders in both goals against average, 5.47, and in save percentage, .534. She’ll need to continue her sensational play for Le Moyne to win the North bracket.




PHOTO COURTESY OF ADELPHI ATHLETICS

Jacqueline Jahelka is Adelphi's all-time leader with 271 career goals.


Don’t Be Surprised If...

The semifinal matchups are a repeat of last year.
The top two seeds in both the North and South advanced to last year’s national semifinals in Denver and those same four teams could gather again for this year’s semifinals in Bloomsburg, Pa.  No. 1 seed Adelphi defeated No. 2 Le Moyne, 13-4 in last year’s North semifinal and they have easily been the top two teams in the region once again in 2017. The South bracket features a bit more parity, but Florida Southern and Lindenwood are the favorites, with the Lions seeking to avenge last year’s 15-11 loss to FSC.

Predictions

Semifinals
Adelphi 6, Le Moyne 5
Florida Southern 15, Lindenwood 13

Championship Game
Adelphi 9, Florida Southern 6

Three teams - Adelphi, Le Moyne and Lindenwood - have clearly been ahead of the pack all season long, while a fourth, Florida Southern, has been just a notch behind. There’s no reason to believe that these four teams won’t be the last four standing. 

Having each handed the other its only loss of the season, Adelphi and Le Moyne are on track to meet for the third time this season in the North semifinal. Both prior meetings were low-scoring, defensive slugfests, and the same is expected on May 19: Adelphi 6, Le Moyne 5.

In the South, the favorites are deep and experienced. Lindenwood is making its fourth straight NCAA tournament appearance, while Florida Southern is the defending national champion and has a 16-game winning streak since its last loss, a 14-11 setback at Lindenwood on Feb. 26. In another high-scoring affair on May 19, the Mocs even the season series: FSC 15, Lindenwood 13.

Ultimately, the national champion will come from the North bracket. Adelphi has all the pieces to capture its eighth national title. It’s their championship to lose. In 2017’s final game, Adelphi reverses the result of last year’s title game, defeating FSC  9-6.

Grading the Committee

A

There’s not much fault to be found with this year’s 12-team field. The selection committee followed its regional mandate and the NCAA’s defined criteria guidelines to select the right teams. With the North bracket comprised of three NE-10 teams and three ECC teams, rematches were unavoidable. In the South bracket, some might argue that No. 4 Regis was overseeded, but they are the only team among seeds 3-6 that has a victory against the other teams in the field. Let the games begin.