The Cal State Stanislaus women's soccer team was rewarded for being one of the best teams all year long — and ranked as high as No. 3 for two weeks — on Monday as the Warriors received an invitation to participate in the NCAA Division II Championship tournament.
The Warriors (13-4-1) will extend their season this week and will play in the national tournament for the second consecutive year. It will be the program's third appearance. The fourth seeded Warriors will face No. 5 seed, and GNAC tournament champion, Seattle Pacific (12-4-3) Thursday night at 7 p.m. in Bellingham, Wash., on the campus of No. 1 seed Western Washington (16-0-4). Winner of the first round match will face host Western Washington on Saturday at 1 p.m.
"We are very excited to be in the NCAA tournament. I told our players that there is no question they deserve to be in the field of 48," head coach Gabriel Bolton said. "They have had an outstanding season playing an exceptionally difficult schedule."
The preseason strength of schedule proved to be key as the Warriors went 7-0 with wins over strong programs such as California Baptist, Azusa Pacific and Central Washington. In fact, the Warriors gained a spot in the regional rankings as they were ranked No. 5 last week but had to sit out during the CCAA tournament. Stanislaus missed by the CCAA tournament by one point in the standings.
"Since our last match of the regular season we have been preparing like we were in the tournament. We are looking forward to our first round match against SPU which is an outstanding opponent," added Bolton.
Over the past weekend, with Seattle Pacific and Point Loma Nazarene grabbing two automatic berth spots, the odds of Stanislaus getting the invite to play in the national tournament seemed slim. But when the NCAA made the announcement on NCAA.com Monday afternoon, the Warriors were pleasantly shocked to learned that their season is not over.
CCAA tournament teams Cal State San Bernardino (which was ranked No. 4 last week) No. 6 Sonoma State and Chico State all lost over the course of the past eight days and are left out of the field of 48 in the NCAA event. Chico State played Cal State L.A. in the championship match on Sunday.
Cal State Stanislaus was ranked in the top 10 four times this regular season and spent two consecutive weeks at No. 3 in mid-September. The Warriors were also in the top three in the West Region for six weeks, including the top spot for three.
Cal State L.A., the CCAA champion crown on Warrior Stadium Sunday afternoon, is the No. 2 seed and will host the other half of the West Region tournament in Los Angeles. The Golden Eagles will face the winner of the Cal Poly Pomona-Point Loma Nazarene match, also on Saturday.