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The Orion

Women’s soccer misses NCAA Championship

Cassi Scroggins competes against a Cal State Stanislaus opponent in a game earlier this season. Photo credit: John Domogma

For Chico State’s women’s soccer team, failing to be selected by the NCAA’s Division II Women’s Soccer Selection Committee to compete in the championship tournament dampened an otherwise successful season.

The Wildcats capped off their year with a second-place finish in the California Collegiate Athletic Association standings, holding an 8-2-1 conference record along with an appearance in the CCAA championship tournament final.

After the Wildcats’ successful 2014 campaign, Kim Sutton, women’s soccer head coach, said she thought they had done enough to state their case to deserve a spot in the tournament.

“We thought because our strength of schedule (was) probably the strongest of the three teams that were considered for the last spot, we thought we’d be chosen,” Sutton said, “but obviously that wasn’t the case.”

Instead of Chico State, the committee chose Cal State Stanislaus and Cal Poly Pomona from the CCAA conference to go in the tournament.

Hearing that the team was not invited to play in the NCAA tournament was very disheartening, especially for the seniors who felt like they should have been in it, Sutton said.

“When we found out we didn’t get invited to the tournament, it was heartbreaking,” said senior defender Halima Abdelshife. “It almost didn’t seem real that our season was done because I know we deserved it more than anybody.”

Both Cal State Stanislaus and Cal Poly Pomona finished behind Chico State in the conference standings, but the team’s place in the standings did not mean much in the committee’s selection process, especially in its conference where teams were separated by a slim margin of wins and loses, Sutton said.

“I knew it was going to be really tight,” she said. “In the rankings, teams three through nine virtually had the similar record, plus or minus. A half a game record was only a small part of it, and we knew it was going to be very, very tight, so it was very unfortunate.”

NCAA’s selection committee has standards to determine which teams to invite in the tournament, Sutton said.

These seven factors are:

  • Overall winning percent
  • Strength of schedule of overall winning percent
  • Non-conference winning percent (out-of-conference games)
  • Strength of schedule of non-conference games
  • Head-to-head
  • Common opponents
  • Results versus ranked teams.

But even with the criteria, it is still unclear why the Wildcats did not get invited, Sutton said.

“Why they picked the team they did based on what piece of the criteria, I just don’t know, “ she said. “You could’ve picked any one of the teams and argued in a positive manner for them, and picked them, but you know we’re just never going to know.”

Brianna Furner, senior goalkeeper, who tied the school record for wins by a goalkeeper and second all-time in career shutouts, said that she could not have asked for a better way to finish her career as a Wildcat, despite not making it to the NCAA tournament.

“We were a young team,” she said. “And for us to have as much success that we had throughout our season and in the (CCAA) tournament was more than I could have asked for, for my senior year.”

The team finished with a .684 winning percentage — the seventh highest in the program’s history.

Abdelshife, who is in her fifth year with the program, said that though she knows the team could have made a solid run in the national championship, there was no overlooking all the other accomplishments and positive strides that it made throughout the season.

As for Sutton, she said that this will hopefully serve as a learning experience for the younger players in the team, and will hopefully help to motivate them next season.

“I think it’ll on the positive side push them to do better next year and realize that every game really does matter,” she said. “And, you know, one more win, we would’ve been in there, so maybe it’ll fuel their fire for next year.”

Jose Olivar can be reached at [email protected] or @jpu_olivar on Twitter.

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