NCAA roundup – Soccer, Volleyball, Cross Country, Football

NCAA roundup – Soccer, Volleyball, Cross Country, Football

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) had a solid weekend on the national stage, with conference teams competing in the soccer and volleyball NCAA Division III Tournaments, and teams competing at the NCAA Cross Country Regional meet.

The St. Thomas men's soccer team won its first two NCAA Playoff games to win its four-team regional and advance to the Sweet 16, the St. Olaf women's cross country team captured the Central Region championship, and both the Augsburg women's soccer team and the Gustavus volleyball team won first-round contests in their respective NCAA tournaments to highlight a great weekend for the MIAC.

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In addition, the MIAC cross country teams and individuals and MIAC football teams learned their postseason fates as the NCAA Championship fields for those two sports were announced. The MIAC will send two football teams – St. Thomas and Saint John's – to the Division III Playoffs, and the league will also send four teams and three individuals to the Division III Cross Country National Championship races.

The MIAC's five NCAA tournament teams in soccer and volleyball went .500 collectively last weekend, led by the Tommie men going 2-0 with a pair of home wins and a trip to the Sweet 16. This marks the second-straight season a MIAC men's soccer team has advanced to at least the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Tommies opened with a dramatic 2-1 overtime win over St. Scholastica with Tony Kuplic scoring a pair of hugely-clutch goals at 87:11 to tie it up, and in overtime at 1:08:03 for the amazing comeback win. Kuplic's postseason heroics continued a day later as he and Christian Elliehausen both scored and goalkeeper Aidan Hogan made seven saves in a 2-0 shutout win over Luther to help UST improve to 18-1-3 and advance to the Sweet 16. The team will be back in action Saturday at 1:30 p.m. against Benedictine (Ill.) in Chicago.

In the women's soccer tournament, MIAC Playoff champ Augsburg defeated the Milwaukee School of Engineering 2-0 Saturday behind goals from Ashley St. Aubin and Rayni Pemble, and a four-save shutout by goalkeeper Marissa Guillou. The Auggies season ended with an 18-5 record a day later in a 2-0 loss to host Chicago. MIAC regular-season champ St. Thomas also earned an at-large bid into the field and dropped a hard-fought 1-0 decision to Loras. The Tommies' tremendous season ended with a 17-3-1 overall record.

The Gustavus volleyball team (24-8) kept its postseason run going with a 3-0 first-round win over Wartburg Thursday in NCAA regional play. The Gusties won 25-23, 25-15, 25-16, with Shaefer Rupar hitting .417 with 11 kills and Nora Holtan dishing out 33 assists. The Gusties ran into a hot Cal Lutheran team in a 3-0 second-round loss, with match scores of 25-15, 25-12 and 25-23. Lauren Hanson had 11 kills to lead the team. St. Thomas (22-9) also received an at-large bid and played UW-La Crosse extremely tough in a 3-0 loss in Thursday's opening round. The Tommies fell 25-18, 25-22, 25-23, with Whiney Loyd's nine kills and six blocks leading the way.

The NCAA Division III Central Region Cross Country Championships were hosted by Carleton College Saturday in Northfield, and the MIAC – particularly the women's teams – had a strong showing. St. Olaf scored 91 points to take home the women's Region championship (full results), with fellow MIAC rivals St. Thomas (112) and Carleton (162) also in the top four, with the Tommies finishing third and the Knights right behind in fourth place.

Saint Benedict (279) finished eighth and Macalester (285) was ninth to give the MIAC five teams in the top 10, and Hamline was just outside that group in 11th with 306 points. St. Catherine (353) finished 14th, Bethel (370) was 15th, Gustavus (438) took 17th, Concordia (472) finished 18th and Augsburg finished 20th to put 11 of the MIAC's 12 teams in the top 20. Saint Mary's finished 23rd with 672 points.

Macalester's Kimber Meyer was the MIAC's top individual finisher in fifth place with a time of 22:11.6. St. Olaf's Mary Naas took seventh with a time of 22:21.5, St. Thomas' Alex Fossum (22:30.2) was in eighth and Carleton's Emily Kaegi (22:38.3) finished 10th. The MIAC also got top-20 finishes from St. Thomas' Bridget McGivern (12th) and Kayla Janto (14th), St. Olaf's Jamie Hoornaert (17th) and Bryony Hawgood (20th), Saint Benedict's Emma Weber (18th) and St. Catherine's Rachel Hall (19th).

The men's race  (full results) saw the MIAC place four teams in the top 12 and seven in the top 15. St. Olaf finished third with 128 points, Gustavus was sixth (191), Saitn John's finished eighth (233) and host Carleton took 10th (313). Also in the top 15 were St. Thomas (343) at No. 12, Hamline (399) at No. 14 and Bethel (462) at No. 15. Saint Mary's finished 17th (474), Macalester was 19th (491), Concordia took 24th (611) and Augsburg finished 25th (653).

Individually, Saint John's Ryan Bugler led all MIAC runners with a third-place finish with a time of 25:34.2, and Saint Mary's Jovan Newsum took sixth with a time of 25:38.5. Gustavus' Evan Jones and Thomas Knobbe were Nos. 12 and 13, respectively, and St. Olaf's Alex Berthe finished 15th and Carleton's Tris Dodge was 19th to give the MIAC six runners in the top 20.

Monday, the NCAA announced the national championship field and the MIAC was again well-represented with four teams and three individuals headed for the championship race on Nov. 19 in Louisville, Ky., with the women's race at 10 a.m. and the men at 11 a.m. (central time). The St. Olaf women earned an automatic bid via their regional title, and the Carleton and St. Thomas women were selected for the field as well, along with Macalester's Meyer as an individual. The Ole men also received an at-large bid to nationals, as did individual runners Bugler and Newsum thanks to their strong region performances.

For the second-straight season, the MIAC will send both St. Thomas (10-0) and Saint John's (9-1) to the NCAA Division III Football Playoffs, as the Tommies received the league's automatic bid thanks to their conference title, and the Johnnies received an at-large bid thanks to their strong regular-season. Both were awarded home games in the first round, as UST will host Northwestern-St. Paul (9-1) Saturday, and the Johnnies will host Wisconsin-Platteville (8-2) with both games scheduled to kick off at noon.

The St. Thomas/Northwestern winner will take on the winner of Coe and Monmouth, and the SJU/UWP winner will face the UW-Oshkosh and Washington-St. Louis winner in the second round. If both the Tommies and Johnnies were to win their first two NCAA Playoff games, they'd meet in the third round. A year ago, the two met for the first time in the NCAA Playoffs, with St. Thomas prevailing en route to its national runner-up finish.

Fans can use the NCAA's interactive brackets to track the progress of each tournament (links below), and they can also follow the action on the MIAC scoreboard or the MIAC mobile app, which is a free download on both the iTunes and Google Play stores. The MIAC scoreboard and app will include links to follow each game live, as well as scores, stats, recaps, photos and more.

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