Category Archives: NCAA Division II

DII baseball: Freshmen to keep an eye on in 2019

The NCAA Division II baseball season is underway. Here is a quick look at freshmen to keep an eye on this season. This is not a ranking, but a simple list of names I have gathered that could make an impact as early as this season.

(BOLD = has already appeared in games in 2019)

Andrew Morris, RHP, Colorado Mesa

Anthony Lanier, RHP, Augustana (SD)

Brett McGee, DH/C, Southern Arkansas

Bryce Lewis, LHP, Mississippi College

Cam Nolet, LHP, USC Aiken

Cameron Hill, OF, Georgia College

Carson King, RHP, Florida Southern

Collin Camarigg, INF/RHP, Florida Southern

Daniel Irusarri, INF, Nova Southeastern

Dante Palacio, OF, Cal Poly Pomona

Duncan Pastore, INF, Nova Southeastern

Haydn McGreargy, 1B, Colorado Mesa

Isaiah Diandreth, INF, Seton Hill

John Michael Faile, C, North Greenville

Joseph Acosta, RHP, Azusa Pacific

Josh Hudgins, RHP, Georgia College

Kris Pirozzi, RHP, Millersville

Lance Logsdon, 1B, Quincy

Lonnie Morris, LHP, UCSD

Lucus Fomar, P, Mercyhurst

Luke Cantwell, OF/C, West Chester

Michael Fuhrman, INF, UCSD

Nathan Wilson, RHP, Colorado Mesa

Peyton Zabel, RHP, Augustana (SD)

Reece Davis, RHP, Bellarmine

Sam Kimel, OF, Mississippi College

Seth Miller, RHP, Augustana

NCAA DII baseball: Here are the teams to watch in 2019

(This piece originally ran on NCAA.com. You can read the full piece HERE.)

The DII baseball season is finally here. With the first pitch of the 2019 season on Feb. 1, the road to Cary, North Carolina will officially begin.

Continue reading NCAA DII baseball: Here are the teams to watch in 2019

Here’s everything you need to know about the DII football championship semifinals

Twenty-eight teams entered the 2018 DII football championship with national title aspirations. After 15 weeks of football, just four teams remain.

The DII football championship is broken into four Super Regions with each portion of the bracket beginning with the seven teams. Three rounds of play determine each Super Region champion which moves on to the national semifinals. Three of the four teams that advanced — Valdosta State, Minnesota State and Notre Dame (OH) — were No. 1 seeds in their respective regions. The fourth — Ferris State — was the No. 2. All four teams enter Saturday undefeated.

Continue reading Here’s everything you need to know about the DII football championship semifinals

What we learned in the first round of the DII Football Championship

(This was run on NCAA.com, please see the full article HERE)

Welcome to the 2018 DII Football Championship. Or should we call it Upset City?

The first round of the tournament went just as expected. That is to say, it was completely unpredictable.

No. 7 Wingate started the day by taking down No. 2-seeded West Georgia, the No. 10 team in DII football. No 6 New Haven followed suit, taking down No. 3 West Chester in a Super Region One that saw all three games end in upset fashion. Two former national champions entered the day ranked as sixth seeds. Both — Northwest Missouri State and Texas A&M-Commerce — advanced in convincing fashion. All said, there were seven lower-seeded teams that punched their ticket to the second round.

MORE: Interactive bracket | Printable bracket | Buy 2018 championship tickets

That didn’t mean some of the top teams didn’t perform, however. Here’s what we learned in the first round of the DII Football Championship.

Northwest Missouri State is back in postseason form

Last year was an odd one for the Bearcats. They battled injury, actually had a losing streak (albeit two whole games) and were eliminated in the first round in a heartbreaking 21-18 loss to Ashland. The 2018 Northwest Missouri State team put together a complete effort in the first round and look like that scary team that ran to back-to-back undefeated seasons.

Northwest Football@NWBearcatFB

TOUCHDOWN BEARCATS! Northwest’s Isaiah Strayhorn scores his second rushing touchdown of the day – this one from three yards out – and gives the Bearcats a 35-17 lead at Grand Valley State. 4:06 left in the 4th qtr. Northwest has rushed for 313 yards against the Lakers

Freshman quarterback Braden Wright has garnered most of the talk this season with an MIAA Freshman of the Year campaign, but it was his running game that picked it up today. Isaiah Strayhorn averaged 15.5 yards per carry in amassing 171 yards and two touchdowns while Josh Caldwell added 147 yards and two touchdowns as well. That notorious Rich Wright defense did its thing, limiting a strong Grand Valley State offense to just 239 yards and 17 points. Austen Eskew powered the pass rush with three sacks while Jake Richards added nine tackles and two interceptions. The Bearcats played a well-balanced game and next week’s showdown with No. 2 Ferris State may just be the game to watch.

MORE: We picked our bracket and sleepers for the DII Football Championship

Super Chargers fueled by great quarterback play

There are two Chargers — New Haven and Hillsdale — in the DII Football Championship. Both were underdogs, both are in the second round. Both were fueled by the tremendous play of their quarterbacks.

Heading into the week, NCAA.com called Hillsdale the Super Region One sleeper, mainly because, “the Chance Stewart to Trey Brock connection is as fun as any to watch in DII, giving them a dynamic duo that may surprise a few people.” The two delivered in the first round, as Stewart threw for 305 yards and three touchdowns, with 170 of those yards and two of those touchdowns going to Brock. Hillsdale now has a date with No. 1-seeded Notre Dame (OH) in the second round, and its pass attack should be a fun counter to the Jaleel McLaughlin-led rush-heavy Falcons offense.

New Haven Football@NewHavenNation

TOUCHDOWN Ju’an Williams to tie the game!! 🏈⚡️

New Haven: 28
West Chester: 28

New Haven rolled through its DII slate perfect until dropping a thrilling 17-13 loss in the season finale to LIU Post. The win cost them the Northeast-10 championship, but perhaps the end result lit a fire that makes them a dangerous threat this postseason. LIU Post was upset by Slippery Rock while the unranked Chargers, with an obvious chip on their shoulder, went blow-for-blow with No. 8 West Chester, winning 35-28 and moving on to a showdown against The Rock.

Both quarterbacks played well in the game, but it was New Haven’s Ajee Patterson who had the edge. The Chargers scored five touchdowns and Patterson had all of them. He threw for 265 yards and three touchdowns and though he only netted four yards on the ground, he added two one-yard rushing touchdowns. His West Chester counterpart A.J. Long had a fine day as well but fell one touchdown short.

MORE: A region-by-region look at the DII Football Championship

Slippery Rock’s Wes Hills can run

The Rock was one of two No. 7 seeds to advance. They went into Brookville, NY facing an LIU Post rush defense that was No. 10 in DII football. That didn’t seem to bother Slippery Rock running back Wes Hills one bit.

Rock Athletics

@Rock_Athletics

FB: Let’s talk about this guy for a second. Today, Jake Chapla set the SRU single-season record for made field goals (15) and took over sole possession of the all-time career record for made field goals (37). Oh yea… he’s only a junior.

Hills found a second gear five weeks ago and has been borderline unstoppable since minus a “rough” outing against West Chester in the PSAC Championship when he still ran for 92 yards. Hills posted three 200-yard games in a row to close out the regular season and he came close to another one Saturday. The senior running back ripped off 167 yards and a touchdown against a Pioneers defense that allowed just 93.7 yards per game this season. Next up is another NE10 foe in a New Haven team that allowed 169.5 yards per game and 13 touchdowns on the ground this season.

MORE: Watch the DII plays of the week for Week 11

Tarleton State is for real

In the most complete game of the first round, the Texans utterly dominated Azusa Pacific 58-0. Everyone came to play and put up some serious numbers in the process.

Running back Xavier Turner has exploded in the second half of the season, now posting seven-straight 100-yard games. Five of those games were better than 164 yards rushing, and Saturday was more of the same as Turner posted his third 200-yard performance of the season while scoring three touchdowns. Despite the ground control, quarterback Ben Holmes was in charge as well, responsible for three touchdowns of his own.

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Tarleton Athletics@TarletonSports

TARLETON PLAYOFF RECORD!

Xavier Turner is the first Texan in school history to rush for 200 yards in an NCAA playoff game! 206 yds, 3 TDs Texans lead 51-0 heading into 4Q

And how about that defense? The Texans posted their second straight 58-0 shutout and have now outscored their opponents 175-3 over the last three weeks. Up next is the defending national champion Texas A&M-Commerce, who the Texans beat on October 13, 47-21. But don’t think this will be an easy matchup.

Last season, the Lions entered the tournament the No. 5 seed and opened the postseason with three consecutive upsets, including taking down Super Region Four No. 1-seed Central Washington and the No. 1-ranked Minnesota State Mavericks. Head coach Colby Carthel whipped up some of that postseason magic in the first round, lighting up DII football’s third-ranked scoring defense with 33 points. That Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs defense came to play, scoring two touchdowns, but so did the Lions, holding the Bulldogs to just 188 total yards and scoring a couple of touchdowns itself.

Throw away the records and stats. This Lions vs. Texans matchup is a Lone Star Conference rivalry on DII football’s biggest stage. Be ready for a war.

Three surprises that shouldn’t be all that surprising

Bowie State defeated West Alabama in a shootout. Amir Hall still flies under-the-radar but shouldn’t any longer. The stud quarterback threw for 360 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 51 yards and two more touchdowns. Next up is No. 1 Valdosta State. If there is a quarterback in DII football that can hang with the high-octane Blazers’ offense, it’s Hall.

Colorado State-Pueblo’s defense held Colorado School of Mines to 37 yards rushing and 17 points. Both were the Orediggers lowest outputs of the season. Brandon Payer, Darius Williams, Kyle Rosenbrock, and company are the real deal, holding Isaac Harker under 300 yards passing for the first time since Oct. 6 and just the third time all season (twice were against the ThunderWolves). They stuffed Cameron Mayberry, the No. 5 rusher in DII football, to 1.55 yards per carry. It was sweet revenge as Mayberry scorched the ThunderWolves for 203 yards and three touchdowns earlier this season. They face No. 1-seeded Minnesota State next.

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CSU-Pueblo Football@CSUPFootball

TOUCHDOWN!!! Another BIG RUN by Marché Dennard, as he goes 40 yards on 3rd-and-2 to the end zone!! PAT blocked, Pack lead 30-10 with 12:04 left in the 4th.

Lenoir-Rhyne scored 43 points and rolled to 22-point victory. The Bears are also a bit under-the-radar, but this offense finds a way to score points in bunches without having any players atop the leaderboards. Lenoir-Rhyne has not scored less than 30 points all season. Next up is the surprise Wingate Bulldogs who convincingly upset No. 10 West Georgia. These two have faced once before this season, with the Bears coming out on top 31-24. Expect another close one in Round 2.

MORE: Programs with the most DII football titles | DII football news

DII Football Championship: Everything you need to know about Sunday’s selection show

(From NCAA.com, please see the full article HERE)

The DII Football Championship selection show is set for 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, Nov. 11. The heavyweights of DII football anxiously await their postseason fates, hopeful to fill out one of the 28 spots in the tournament.

The 2017 DII Football Championship was a memorable one, as it pitted two first-timers against each other. Harlon Hill Award-winner Luis Perez led Texas A&M-Commerce to its first DII title over West Florida. The Argos’ remarkable run was unmatched by any other in history, as they made it all the way to the finals in just their second year as a football program.

Continue reading DII Football Championship: Everything you need to know about Sunday’s selection show

3 things to know about Ferris State’s historic start in the DII Women’s Soccer Championship

Ferris State defeated Ohio Valley 1-0 Saturday to advance to the third round of the DII Women’s Soccer Championship. The Bulldogs’ magical season continues as it picked up the program’s second NCAA tournament win in its history.

This is the Bulldogs’ first trip to the NCAA tournament, and they are certainly making the most of it. They won 2-0 on Thursday against McKendree and now advance to play the winner of No. 1 seed Grand Valley State and No. 4 Walsh. So, who are these history-making Bulldogs?

MORE: 2018 interactive bracket | Print the bracket | Selection show

Ferris State continues to pile up historic wins

The Bulldogs now sit at 17-3-3, rebounding from a 4-0 loss in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship game to Grand Valley State to win their last two in a row. The 17 wins is most in program history, and they hope they aren’t done adding to that number just yet.

Ferris State Soccer@FSUWSO

The previous record was set in 2015, when Ferris State went 14-5-1, missing out on the NCAA tournament with a GLIAC semifinals one-goal loss to Ashland, 4-3. The Bulldogs set the program record with a 4-1 victory on Oct. 30 against Davenport in the GLIAC quarterfinals.

Wins No. 16 and 17 will also go down in the record books. Win No. 16 was the first NCAA tournament victory for the Bulldogs. Win No. 17 ensures that Ferris State remains perfect in postseason play, an impressive start to what it hopes is the start of a long November run.

Single-season goal records continue to fall

This Bulldogs offense has been the most dominant in school history. When Pia Nagel scored the first goal in the Bulldogs’ NCAA tournament history, it was the team’s 47th of the season. That’s one more than the record set by the 2006 and 2007 Ferris State teams. The Bulldogs now sit at 49 goals after Saturday’s second-round victory.

MORE: 6 teams to watch in the tournament

Nagel’s tally was also her seventh game-winning goal of the season. That adds to her single-season record, which she set with her fifth game-winner back on Oct. 10 against Tiffin. The freshman has had a sensational debut, scoring a team-best 10 goals on the season.

Postseason heroes

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Ferris State Soccer@FSUWSO
It’s been the Pia and Tia show on offense thus far for Ferris State this postseason. Nagel scored the first goal against McKendree, while defender Tia VanSuilichem iced it with her first goal of the postseason. Two days later, VanSuilichem played hero, scoring the lone goal in Ferris State’s 1-0 victory.

And how about the red-hot play of junior keeper Alison Chesterfield? She entered the postseason with just three shutouts on the season. Chesterfield has now posted consecutive shutouts and worked hard to get them making 14 combined saves. Her nine saves against Ohio Valley matched her season-high set in a Sept. 2 win over Bellarmine.

MORE: Complete DII women’s soccer championship history

DII football: No. 3 West Georgia, No. 5 Valdosta State highlight big final Saturday

(From NCAA.com, please see the full article HERE)

This is it. The final weekend of the DII football season. With several conference championships and a couple of top 25 showdowns on the bill, there is plenty of action to pay close attention to as Sunday’s bracket selection show awaits.

Let’s take a look at the games that stand out Saturday:

No. 3 West Georgia at No. 5 Valdosta State

Top 5 matchup. Check. Conference championship. Check. No press here at all. Just a whole bunch of playoff implications on the line.

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VSU Athletics@BlazerAthletics

Valdosta State and West Georgia are currently No. 1 and No. 2 in Super Region Two. While neither should have to concern themselves with making the postseason, there is a possible first-round bye at stake. The winner will be the lone remaining undefeated team standing in the conference, all but locking up that No. 1 seed.

The Blazers have the top scoring offense in DII football, putting up a scorching 52.8 points per game. The Wolves are no slouches, as quarterback Willie Candler and running back Devontae Jackson lead the No. 2 scoring offense in the Gulf South Conference at 35.9 points per game. The Wolves also have the top defense in the GSC, so this could be a classic chess match. Whichever coach makes the right move to counter may find his team the victor.

Whatever happens, you couldn’t ask for a more perfect finale to the GSC season. Two of the 10 undefeated teams in all of DII football get to go head-to-head with so much on the line.

MORE: A top 10 shakeup in the latest AFCA poll

No. 9 West Chester at Slippery Rock

This is for all the marbles in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. The PSAC Championship game will be nothing less than a thriller.

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Rock Athletics

@Rock_Athletics

Both of these teams can put up serious points. The PSAC title bout will feature two of the more exciting quarterbacks in DII football. The Golden Rams A.J. Long is second on the team in rushing (557 yards, six touchdowns), while throwing for 1,767 yards and 18 touchdowns. Roland Rivers III didn’t even claim the starting job for The Rock until Week 3, but he’s been sensational, a perfect 8-0 in his starts while throwing for 1,987 yards and 21 touchdowns. Rivers can run, as well, but he doesn’t have to. Wes Hills has been a beast, piling up 1,113 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. He has three-straight 200 yard rushing games and appears to be heating up at the right time.

Slippery Rock is hanging tight at the No. 7 spot in Super Region One. A victory on the big stage will propel them into the postseason. A loss may end it on Saturday.

MORE: DII football Week 10 by the numbers

No. 20 Hillsdale at No. 12 Indianapolis

Hillsdale rose from the unranked just in time to capture the Great Midwest Athletic Conference title last week, taking down undefeated Tiffin in dominating fashion, 48-26. The Chargers challenge themselves by going out of conference to face a top 25 team in the closing week of the season.

Talk about postseason preparation.

UIndy is looking to return to the postseason after a first-round exit to Harding last season. Al McKellar and Toriano Clinton are a dangerous two-headed monster out of the backfield, combining for 1,590 yards and 20 touchdowns. Hillsdale’s quarterback Chance Stewart became the program’s all-time touchdown leader last weekend and hopes there is more in store. He’s already thrown for 2,740 yards and 23 touchdowns, so his first career 3.000-yard season is in his sight.

It’s not often you get a Week 11 top 25 matchup that pits two conference champions against each other. Enjoy this one if you can.

Chadron State at No. 15 Colorado School of Mines  🎥 WATCH LIVE

Both of these teams can put up points with anyone in the country. The Mines offense puts up a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference-best 50.2 points per game, while Chadron State drops 39.1. Last week, the Orediggers fell from the undefeated, upset in the final seconds by Dixie State 52-45. Earlier this season, Chadron State laid down the upset, taking down then-No. 14 Colorado Mesa 38-34.

This is RMAC football.

Chadron State can leave its mark with a win in this one. Sitting at 7-2, they trail the Orediggers and Colorado State-Pueblo (both 8-1) by just one game. The Mines offense is led by some of the best in DII football: quarterback Isaac Harker is No. 3 with 3,201 yards passing, running back Cameron Mayberry is No. 6 with 1,377 yards on the ground, and wide receiver Brody Oliver is No. 8 with 1,067 yards receiving and tied for No. 1 with 19 touchdowns. It won’t be easy for the Eagles, but don’t count them out.

Running back Kevin Coy, Jr. should eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in this one and already has 14 touchdowns. Quarterback Dalton Holst has 20 passing touchdowns. This game should be good old fashioned, explosive RMAC football, and could well come down to whoever has the ball last. The Mines offense is hoping it’s them to keep their postseason hopes alive.

No. 4 Ouachita Baptist at Henderson State

The Reddies are 5-5 and not playing for anything. Anything but bragging rights that is.

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Ouachita Tiger Football@OuachitaFB

Welcome to the Battle of the Ravine. It’s one of the coolest rivalries in all of college football. It’s certainly the closest.

[It is] literally across the street. If the wind is right, you can hit a golf ball from the end zone of Henderson State’s Carpenter-Haygood Stadium to the end zone of Ouachita Baptist’s Cliff Harris Stadium with a driver and 3-iron. The Reddies golf coach has done it. It’s a five-minute walk for Henderson State’s players to that away game, with state police stopping traffic on two-lane U.S. 67, so they can cross. The rivalry drew 12,228 in 2014 in Henderson State’s stadium, which was 1,500 more than every man, woman, child and football fan in Arkadelphia, Ark.”

Last season, the Tigers snapped Henderson State’s record 31-game road win streak with a thrilling 49-42 victory. This year? The Tigers are a perfect 10-0 and No. 4 in the country. You better be sure that Henderson State is awaiting its chance to play spoiler and end Ouachita Baptist’s current win streak.

But wait, there’s more:

No. 13 LIU Post faces off against New Haven for the Northeast-10 title. Both teams are undefeated in DII football play and this clash of the NE10 titans could boost the winner to the top spot should Notre Dame (OH) see an upset in the final week.

No. 24 Tiffin battles a tough unranked Findlay team. Not only did the Dragons drop in the AFCA rankings after their loss to Hillsdale, but they also fell to No. 8 in Super Region One. Their postseason hopes hang on the final score of this one (you can watch on NCAA DII Twitter and Facebook).

MORE: Regional rankings | Programs with the most DII football titles

DII Men’s Soccer Championship: Keep an eye on these 5 sleeper teams

(From NCAA.com, please see the full article HERE)

The 38-team field is set. Charleston (W.V.) is back in the mix to defend its DII Men’s Soccer Championship national title, while three of last year’s semifinalists also return to the postseason. The road to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is littered with plenty of familiar faces.

But what about those that may be flying under the radar? Here are five sleeper teams to watch heading into the tournament (in no particular order).

MORE: Interactive bracket Programs with most DII men’s soccer titles

Ashland

The Eagles are heading into the NCAA tournament playing their best soccer of the year. Though their record is just 8-9-3, they have rebounded big time since a 2-8-1 start to the season. Ashland hasn’t lost a conference match in over a month, going 6-0-2 over that span. The Eagles punched what seemed to be an unimaginable ticket on Sunday, winning their first Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title since 2010.

Ashland University Eagles@goashlandeagles
This is such an intriguing story. The Eagles are three years removed from not even having a program for three years. Now, they are back in the postseason with the GLIAC’s leading scorer — Justin Libertowski — and the GLIAC Goalkeeper of the Year Dimitrios Karousos, who made three saves in a shutout of Northwood for the GLIAC title. Ashland faces a familiar foe in Saginaw Valley State in the first round, a team it lost to during its cold streak and tied down the home stretch. It won’t be an easy task, but Ashland’s strong finish and momentum certainly have them on the radar. 

Post

Another group of Eagles making their long-awaited return to the postseason hail from Waterbury, Connecticut. Post returns to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2013, sweeping its way through the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference tournament and upending top-seeded Wilmington 2-0 for the automatic bid.

GoPostEagles@GoPostEagles
The Eagles are led by Sergio Diaz. Diaz quietly had one of the best seasons in DII soccer, earning him CACC Player of the Year honors. Versatile and quick, Diaz finished tied for second in the conference in goals scored with 13 and led the CACC with 18 assists, second-most in DII. Including the tournament, Post closed the season winning eight of its last nine games, with Diaz scoring seven goals and assisting on 11 more during that span. It’s not always the best team that wins a tournament, but sometimes it’s the hottest. Diaz and his Eagles are trending in the right direction.

MORE: The 7 most prolific scorers in DII soccer

Fresno Pacific

The Sunbirds return to the postseason for the first time since 2015. That was when Anthony Velarde, Joao Ravasio, and Eric Sanchez were freshmen. Now the senior offensive leaders of Fresno Pacific look to keep their storied careers going just a little longer with a deep run into the NCAA tournament.

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FPU Soccer@FPUsoccer

Velarde is having a career year. His 20 assists top DII men’s soccer and his 14 goals are best on the team. Entering this season off a redshirted 2017, Ravasio had a total of four goals and six assists in his two years with the Sunbirds. He has absolutely exploded onto the scene, scoring seven goals with 11 assists. Throw in Sanchez’s and Jose Vargas’ five goals each, and Fresno Pacific put together the highest scoring team in the PacWest and the second-highest scoring team in DII.

The Sunbirds were 1-1 this season against ranked opponents. That lone win came against Cal Poly Pomona, their first-round opponent. Amid a five-game winning streak and with plenty of firepower, expect Fresno Pacific to come out strong and make an opening round statement against a very solid Broncos eleven.

Spring Hill

Beware of the Badgers. You’ve officially been warned. Spring Hill’s remarkable turnaround was completed Sunday with its first-ever Gulf South Conference championship.

SHC Men’s Soccer@SHCMensSoccer
The Badgers joined the GSC in 2014 and won a combined 10 games in their first three seasons. They turned it around last season, going 12-3 and are now heading to their first NCAA postseason behind an almost perfect 17-1 record. Spring Hill put itself to the test early, beating nationally ranked Tampa in Week 2 and rolled on, closing the season on a 14-game winning streak. Alex Lipinski (18 goals, five assists) and Tillman Schober (four goals, 15 assists) lead the way. While the lack of postseason experience would normally hurt a team, the Badgers are on absolute fire right now. It wouldn’t surprise anyone to see them keep that winning streak going a bit longer.

Tiffin

Yes, it is odd to call a No. 1 seed a sleeper. But this is the highest the Dragons have ever been seeded in NCAA tournament play, and it was also their first year in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference. Tiffin wasted little time, blanking last year’s No. 1 seed Ohio Valley in the G-MAC Championship, earning the automatic bid to the DII Men’s Soccer Championship.

Tiffin Men’s Soccer@TuMensSoccer

The Dragons are led by G-MAC Defensive Player of the Year Kangni Gabianou, who even contributed two goals this year, one of which was a game-winner. Ramiesh McKnight, Abdoul Magid sy, and Malik Suleman power the offense, combining for 25 goals on the season. Their 15-win season and conference championship earned them a first-round bye where the Dragons await the winner of Ohio Valley and Maryville. It’s never easy to defeat a team three times in one season, so should they face the Fighting Scots in the second round, it becomes one of the premier games to watch.

MORE: Regional rankings | United Soccer Coaches poll

DII volleyball: Here are 5 teams ready to make a run in the tournament

(From NCAA.com, please check out the full article HERE)

The DII Women’s volleyball championship is quickly approaching and Concordia-St. Paul is hoping to get the chance to win its third straight title and tenth in the past 12 years.

The season has been a wild one, however, and the No. 1 team hasn’t been safe. Five different teams have reached a No. 1 spot that has changed eight times in the 12 polls this season. This seems like the year the title is up for grabs, with no clear-cut favorite.

We know Concordia-St. Paul has a tough gauntlet in its own Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, and then an even more unrelenting Central Region that pumps MIAA powers Washburn and Nebraska-Kearney into the mix. Minnesota Duluth, Northern State, and UNK all have shared time in the No. 1 spot with the Golden Bears to put just how difficult that Region is into perspective. Any school that survives that mini-tournament is considered a favorite. But let’s take a look at five teams outside the Central Region that could push for the national championship in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Tampa

Tampa Spartans

@tampaspartans

MORE: Programs with the most DII volleyball titles

Tampa plays in a tough volleyball conference. The Sunshine State Conference is home to defending runners-up Florida Southern as well as top-25 regulars Palm Beach Atlantic. Led by a duo of sophomores — Katie McKiel (403 kills) and Sorrel Houghton (384 kills) —the Spartans test themselves every time out and have a good record to show for it, going 11-3 against programs currently in the regional rankings. Tampa has two games left, both against regionally ranked opponents, and can make a real statement heading into the bracket selection.

Gannon

Last season the Golden Knights went 32-7 in making their first national semifinals in program history. Gannon lost some big pieces from that team, but the returners have gelled and perhaps are in a better position heading into the 2018 tournament.

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Gannon Athletics@GUKnights
Gannon’s lone loss came way back in September in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference opener to East Stroudsburg. Since then, the Golden Knights have won 18 straight and avenged that loss by knocking East Stroudsburg out of the PSAC tournament. California (Pa.) is up next in the PSAC semis, but win or lose, Gannon should make the postseason.

Two freshmen —Lauren Sampson and Ashley McClung — pace the No. 1 team in the East Region, but Ally Smith and Ashley Kerestes have performed well as the key returners from last season’s squad. Should the Golden Knights lock down the PSAC championship and finish their season 31-1, they will have to be considered favorites to reach Pittsburgh for the DII Festival.

Cal State San Bernardino

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NCAA Division II

@NCAADII

They have certainly battled. Cal State San Bernardino is 8-2 against teams in the latest regional rankings. Seven of those eight wins were straight-set sweeps, with the Coyotes winning 24-of-25 sets against their stiffest competition. They now head to the California Collegiate Athletic Association as the No. 1 seed. The bulk of last year’s squad — including kills leaders Alexis Cardoza and Hailey Jackson and assists leader Jayann DeHoog — are all back. They have the experience and skills to make a deep run this November.

Western Washington

One of those two losses Cal State San Bernardino suffered came at the hands of Western Washington. The Vikings are on a tear, winners of 23 matches in a row. In fact, they have only lost one set since September.

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WWU Athletics@WWUAthletics

The Great Northwest Athletic Conference champions are led by who may go down as the program’s greatest player. Abby Phelps is not just the Vikings all-time leader in points, but the GNAC’s, with 1,725.5 total points in her career. She’s also tops in Western Washington history in kills and needs just three to become the GNAC record holder. Phelps has delivered in four years in Bellingham, all that’s left is a national championship trophy.

Tarleton State

The TexAnns finished 15-14 in 2013. Since then, Tarleton State has put up four straight seasons with 24 or more wins, each one earning it a spot in the NCAA postseason. The TexAnns seemingly get better and better every year, and with a wild South Central Region this year, this may be their chance to get to the quarterfinals and make some noise.

Tarleton State’s game is built on balance. Adriana Darthuy leads the team in kills with 306, but three other players have recorded more than 200. Blanca Izquierdo is the TexAnns leader with 635 assists, but Kayla Brannon is right behind with 475. Tarleton State lost its season finale in a bit of an upset. The fire from that loss, paired with the depth on the roster, may help them surprise some people.

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Women’s basketball: North Alabama picks up surprise victory in first Division I game ever

(From NCAA.com, the full story can be read HERE)

The North Alabama Lions are perfect in their NCAA Division I women’s basketball tenure.

The Lions, who made the jump to the ASUN from Division II this season, went on the road and defeated Vanderbilt 74-71 in its first game as a DI program. North Alabama wasted little time making its mark on the new division, opening up a 28-11 lead in its first quarter of play. Though the Commodores’ Autumn Newby scored 30 points — 20 of which came in the second half — in a late comeback, the Lions were able to stave off Vanderbilt’s surge and walked away 1-0 on the season.

espnW

The Lions have been on the rise since the Wallen triplets took the court for the 2016-17 season. It’s fitting that two of the three —Emma and Ivy — led the way in the program’s historic win. Emma scored 19 points, while Ivy chipped in 13 along with eight rebounds and seven assists. Not only was the night historic for the Lions, but for Emma Wallen as well. Her 179th career 3-pointer capped the opening 12-2 run to start the game and also set the program record for most 3-pointers.

The Lions return to their roots in a matchup against DII Lane this weekend. Their next big test is the NJIT Classic on Nov. 24-25 in Newark, New Jersey against Southeast Missouri State and Western Carolina before they make their official debut in the ASUN Jan. 5.

Mo Carter@MoCarterWZDX

Welcome to the future site of waynecavadi.com. Formerly the Wayniac Nation, you can find all of my work and writing samples right here. Welcome back!

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