Madie Gibson is so vital to Monmouth’s success vs. Virginia. (Photo courtesy of the Monmouth SID)
WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – The Monmouth University women will try for its first-ever win in the NCAA Division I women’s tournament as they take on the University of Virginia in the opening round at Klöckner Stadium in Charlottesville, Va. Friday at 7 p.m.
Monmouth (16-3-1), the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular season and tournament champions, earned the league’s automatic bid to tournament after defeating Siena College, 7-1, and Niagara University, 3-0, in the MAAC tournament. The Hawks earned the top seed in the MAAC tournament after going 9-1-0 during the conference regular season.
The Cavaliers (15-4-0), ranked No. 11 in the nation, earned an at-large berth and are making their 31st NCAA Tournament appearance and 25th consecutive. Last season, Virginia advanced to the Round of 16 for the 13th consecutive season when they lost to NCAA runner-up, UCLA.
The Cavaliers had five players receive All-ACC honors, led by Phoebe McClernon’s second team honors. Alexa Spaanstra and Taryn Torres collected third-team honors, and Spaanstra and Rebecca Jarrett also earned All-Freshman accolades.
One of the top scoring offenses in the nation, UVA is tied for fifth nationally at 2.58 goals per game and is tied for sixth in total goals (49), the same total as Monmouth. The two teams share common opponents in Bucknell and NC State. Both teams defeated Bucknell 1-0 on their home turf, while Monmouth fell in double OT at NC State and Virginia knocked off the Wolfpack 2-1 at home.
Monmouth returns to the tournament for the third consecutive season and makes its sixth appearance overall. Last year, Monmouth fell 4-0 at Princeton and two seasons ago, the Hawks scored their first NCAA Tournament goal in a 4-1 loss at Virginia. Previously, the Hawks played at Penn State (L, 3-0) in 2013 and also faced the Nittany Lions in 2007, a 4-0 loss in State College, Pa., prior to a 4-0 setback at Maryland in 2009.
Monmouth won its eighth conference tournament title overall (NEC – 1995, 1996, 2007, 2009) and fourth as a member of the MAAC (2013, 2016, 2017, 2018). The Hawks became the first team to win three straight MAAC Championships since Loyola Maryland from 2002-2004.
Monmouth has won 11 consecutive games heading into the NCAA Tournament. The 11-game winning streak is tied for the second longest in the NCAA with Howard (11) and behind Saint Louis’ 14-game stretch. Monmouth’s 11-game winning streak is its longest since the program won 17 straight games spanning the 1994 and 1995 seasons. The Hawks have outscored their opponents 41-3 during the 11-match winning streak and have used the same starting lineup in every game.
Madie Gibson was named the 2018 MAAC Championship Most Outstanding Player. Lexie Palladino, Dana Scheriff and Jesi Rossman were named to the MAAC All-Championship Team. Gibson earned her third All-Tournament team selection and Palladino adds her second All-Championship Team honor.
Monmouth had three MAAC major award winners as Gibson was named the MAAC offensive player of the year, Jessica Johnson was chosen as the defensive player of the year and Jill Conklin earned the rookie of the year award.
The trio of Gibson, Johnson and Conklin was three of Monmouth’s program-record seven All-MAAC First Team selections and were joined by midfielders Alli DeLuca and Lexie Palladino, as well as defenders Anna Lazur and Sarina Jones. Goalkeeper Amanda Knaub was a second team All-MAAC honoree, while Conklin, A’Liah Moore and Jesi Rossman landed on the MAAC All-Rookie Team.