A look at the four teams competing for the NCAA Division II Women's National Championship at Pepin-Rood Stadium this weekend.
Grand Valley State Lakers
Conference: Great Lakes
Coach: David DiIanni (7th season)
How they reached Tampa: First round: Bye. Second round: def. Bellarmine 1-0. Third round: def. Northern Kentucky 0-0, 5-4 in penalty shootout. Quarterfinals: def. Colorado School of Mines 3-0.
NSCAA Ranking: No.3
Team Overview: The Lakers have been strong from front to back in recording an undefeated season, recording 15 shutouts while averaging over three goals per game. Led by senior Natalja Stanski and sophomore Megan Brown, who were both named to the Daktronics All-American Division II first team on Tuesday, the Lakers also have four players who have reached double-digit goals for the season, Ashley Botts leading the team with 14 goals.
Saint Rose Golden Knights
Coach: Laurie Darling Gutheil (14th season)
How they reached Tampa: First round: Bye. Second round: def. Merrimack 2-1. Third round: def. Franklin Pierce 1-0. Quarterfinals: def. California (Pa.) 1-0.
NSCAA Ranking: No.2
Team Overview: The Goldens Knights have ridden a tight, defensive squad to the Final Four, sporting a 0.25 goals against average for the season while holding their opponents to an average of six shots per game. Led by Daktronics All-American Kelly Guerin, who was also named to the Academic All-American team, Saint Rose has not conceded more than one goal in any contest this season. As a result, the Golden Knights haven’t had to have the explosive attack other sides at the Final Four have, but with five players have scored at least five goals, Amanda Deck leading the way with nine, they will have enough firepower to contend.
West Florida Argonauts
Conference: Gulf South
Coach: Joe Bartlinski (9th season)
How they reached Tampa: First round: Bye: Second round: def. North Alabama 6-1. Third round: def. Rollins 1-0. Quarterfinals: def. Carson-Newman 2-1.
NSCAA Ranking: No.1
Team Overview: Led by a powerful attack that has scored 115 goals in 22 games, the Argonauts make their second straight Final Four appearance. West Florida’s Shakira Duncan, who has scored 32 goals this season, was named the Ron Lenz National Player of the Year, succeeding teammate Shaneka Gordon, the 2008 winner. Gordon’s twin sister Shameka, Marcela Franco and Dernelle Mascall were also named All-American first-teamers. Last season, the Argonauts reached the national title game, only to lose 1-0 in double-overtime to Seattle-Pacific. They will be expecting to go one better this season.
Cal-State Dominguez Hills Toros
Conference: California Collegiate
Coach: Joe Flanagan (8th season)
How they reached Tampa: First round: def. Dixie State College 4-1. Second round: def. Cal State Los Angeles 2-1. Third round: def. UC San Diego 2-2, 3-1 in penalty shootout. Quarterfinals: West Texas A&M 5-2.
NSCAA Ranking: No.15
Team Overview: A year after the CSDH men won the national title, the Toros women get their chance after an impressive, if slightly improbable, run through the West region. The only side in the Final Four to have lost this season, losing eight times overall, a penalty shootout upset of No.6 Cal State Los Angeles paved the way for the Toros, and they followed it up with victory against No.13 West Texas to advance to the Final Four. Jessica Murphy led the Toros with 15 goals, while Mackenzie Pedrotti added another eight.