CAMBRIDGE, Mass.- Fresh off their first GNAC Championship since 2005, the Johnson & Wales University women's soccer team will travel to the Commonwealth State on Saturday for the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats open the Big Dance by taking on No. 5 MIT at 11 a.m.
This is the second NCAA Tournament appearance for the Wildcats. The first came in 2005 when JWU fell to Tufts, 3-0, on November 12th.
After a slow start to the season, JWU has won 16 of its last 17 games, outscoring opponents 73-15. The Wildcats come into the tournament ranked sixth in the NCAA with 74 goals scored.
The Wildcats are led by GNAC Offensive Player of the Year and GNAC Tournament MVP Olivia Cairrao who scored both of JWU's goals in their 2-1 championship win over Saint Joseph's College of Maine. Cairrao posted a career-high 47 points from 20 goals and seven assists. She became the fifth player in school history to register 100 points, ranking second all-time with 119 points to date.
Career seasons from sophomore forward Jordan Restivo and senior midfielder Cat Nolan earned them each a spot on the First-Team All-GNAC. Restivo registered 35 points from 13 goals and nine assists. She produced three straight game-winning goals this season. Nolan notched eight goals and nine assists for 25 points, including a game-winner to earn GNAC Player of the Week honors.
Senior goalkeeper Colleen Lynch has been solid between the pipes with 80 saves, a 0.89 goals-against average and four shutouts. Lynch holds the JWU record for goalkeeper wins and shutouts with 60 and 28, respectively. She is supported by a strong backline led by junior Olivia Pellegrino who earned All-GNAC First-Team honors and started all 22 games.
This will be the first meeting between the Wildcats and Engineers. MIT won their third-straight NEWMAC championship and for their ninth NCAA Tournament appearance. The Engineers are backed by a powerhouse defense that has surrendered an NCAA-low three goals in 2,020 minutes of play and 19 shutouts. Goalkeeper Ava Gillikin leads the NCAA in goals against average and save percentage, with .128 and .958 respectively.
The winner of the JWU-MIT match up will face the winner of Williams-Gettysburg on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.