St. Thomas Women's Soccer is among four top-25 ranked teams who will compete Friday in Wheaton (Ill.) in NCAA Sweet 16-round action.
The No. 19-ranked Tommies (17-2-3) bring a 15-game unbeaten streak as they face the host No. 6-ranked Wheaton College Thunder (18-1-2) Friday at 1 p.m., followed by a 3:30 p.m. clash between No. 17 Ohio Northern (18-2-3) and No. 15-ranked Carnegie-Mellon (13-5-1).
Friday's winners play Saturday at 5 p.m. in the national quarterfinals.
The Purple started the season 5-2 but are 12-0-3 since then.
The Wheaton Thunder, 10-0-1 at home this season, are a perennial soccer power with the fourth most NCAA playoff wins in Division III. They took an overtime loss at Washington (Mo.) in September, but are 12-0-2 since then. Wheaton reached the NCAA playoff quarterfinals in 2018 but lost 2-1 to Washington (Mo.) and closed that season 19-4-1.
There are three common opponents for Wheaton and St. Thomas: both defeated Carthage; the Toms split two one-goal decisions with Illinois Wesleyan with Wheaton had a 1-0 win; both played at No. 3-ranked Washington (Mo.) and went to overtime, with the Toms winning and the Thunder losing.
St. Thomas Women's Soccer Team/Program Notes (Nov. 22)
- Coming off a pair of 1-0 victories at home to open NCAA play to eliminate 14-win Monmouth (Ill.) and 15-win Illinois Wesleyan, extending their home-field unbeaten streak to 26 (10-0-2 this season)
- This is first UST women's soccer team to reach the NCAA Sweet 16 round since 2002, and first to open the NCAA playoffs with two wins since 1987.
- Over last three seasons, 7-1-3 postseason record and 28-4-5 mark in October-November games
- School-record 19 victories in 2018
- Current team has 14 shutouts and has allowed just one goal in last eight games
- 4-0-3 in overtime games this season, and 5-2 against teams that reached NCAA Division III playoffs
- Junior Paige Cater scored in second OT to win 1-0 at Washington U. and stop a 15-game Bears' home win streak
- Senior Kaley Roberts scored with 12 seconds left in second OT to win 1-0 at St. Mary's on last day of conference season to tie Augsburg for championship
- Tessa Trettel scored in first OT to beat St. Benedict 1-0, and also scored with 61 seconds left in second OT to beat Bethel 2-1
- Senior Elizabeth Luotto scored with 14 seconds left in second OT to win 1-0 at Concordia-Moorhead
- After 1-1 tie through 2 OT, won shootout at Augsburg in conference playoff finals, 6-5, made all six attempts
- Sheila McGill's staff received United Coaches Regional Coaching Staff of the Year in both 2016 and 2018
- Last five Tommie teams have built a 77-17-9 record (49-9-6 against conference foes)
- Swept MIAC regular-season and playoff championships in both 2018 and 2019
- Made conference playoff finals four of the last five seasons
- Received seven All-America honorees since 1997
- 1987 Tommies reached Final Four, 2002 team reached national quarterfinals
- All-American Taryn Theilig (2013-16) was part of 27 shutouts and a 0.75 goals-against average in 58 career starts.
- McGill recently coached her 250th match (159-68-27 overall)
- Has 27 top-five MIAC finishes in 35 seasons, including eight championships and 11 second-place finishes. They've reached the NCAA playoffs 13 times (current streak of four years in a row)
- Lost to Wheaton in the opening game of the 2018 season on a neutral field in Maryland, 2-0, but have built a 35-3-5 record since then. They played at Wheaton as recently as 2013, a 2-0 loss.
- Eliminated in the 2018 NCAA playoffs on the road at UW-La Crosse after a 2-2 tie and a shootout advance for the Eagles
- Junior MF Kate Heimer has a 3.94 grade-point average while majoring in Biology and made CoSIDA Academic All-District; in 63 career games, has 10 goals and 19 assists; team 20-0-1 in games when she scores a goal or an assist
- Sophomore MF Alex Balfour is also on the CoSIDA All-District team with a 4.00 gpa
- Junior keeper Sarah Pasternak, 10-1-3 this fall, had eight saves to shutout Illinois Wesleyan, helping her team avenge a 2-1 loss to the Titans in September
- Junior MF Paige Cater also is a hurdler and 800-meter runner for Tommies' conference champion track and field teams, has been a part of eight MIAC team titles thus far indoors, outdoors, plus soccer regular-season and playoffs