November 5, 2012

Back to the Big Dance! Women's soccer earns at-large NCAA bid, will face Union on Nov. 10

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WALTHAM, Mass. – For the second time in three years, the Brandeis women's soccer team has earned an at-large berth to the NCAA Division III tournament. The Judges, who finished the season with a 13-4-2 record and placed fifth in the University Athletic Association (UAA), will take on 24th-ranked Union College (15-3), an at-large selection from the Liberty League, on Saturday, Nov. 10, in a first-round contest at Amherst College.

Host Amherst (13-1-2) will take on Lasell College (14-4-1) in another first-round match.

Brandeis will play at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $6, $3 with a student ID. You can follow the matches live on-line at https://www.amherst.edu/athletics/jeffcast/jeffcast5

For the Brandeis women, this the third NCAA tournament bid under head coach Denise Dallamora, the only coach in the program's 34-year history. Their previous trips came in 1988 and 2010, when the Judges hosted a regional and advanced to the second round. Nearly half of Brandeis's matches came against NCAA Tournament teams, with the Judges posting a 5-3-1 record in those matches. Brandeis was one of four UAA teams selected, with the Judges going 0-2-1 against Carnegie Mellon, Emory and Washington University. Brandeis also defeated Lasell, Lesley, MIT, Roger Williams and Springfield in non-conference action while falling to Bowdoin.

The Judges were led by a fantastic defense this season, setting a school-record with 13 shutouts in 19 contests. Goalkeepers Francine Kofinas of Dix Hills, N.Y., and Michelle Savuto of Ridgewood, N.J., split time in net for Brandeis and finished second in the league with 87 saves and fourth with a 0.82 goals-against average. Kofinas, a senior, started all 19 matches, while Savuto, a sophomore, played the second half and overtime sessions. Offensively, sophomore transfer Dara Spital of Miami, Fla., led the Judges in scoring with 12 goals and five assists for 29 points. She tied for the league lead in goals and was fourth in points. Spital also led the UAA and was among Division III's leaders with seven game-winning goals this season.

Union is making its 10th NCAA Division III tournament appearance in the past 14 years. The Dutchwomen are guided by 18th-year head coach Brian Speck, who has led his program to 16-straight seasons of at least 10 wins and was named to the Liberty League Co-Coaching Staff of the Year. Senior forward Jennifer Mansfield was named the Liberty League Player of the Year after finishing with 13 goals and four assists for 30 points. She had six game-winners on the campaign. Senior Kayla Marti led the LL with an .874 save percentage.

All three of Union's losses have come at the hands of Liberty League foes who made the NCAA tournament, one against Rochester Institute of Technology and two against 12th-ranked William Smith College, including in the Liberty League championship match this past weekend. The Judges and Dutchwomen have one common opponent, the University of Rochester. Both squads posted 1-0 road wins over the Yellowjackets.

For more information about Brandeis women's soccer, please visit our web site at http://www.brandeisjudges.com/sports/wsoc.

Click here for the complete 2012 NCAA Division III Women's Soccer bracket.

Check out D3soccer.com's NCAA Tournament Central.