College Sports

Cowgirls Set To For NCAA Sectionals

ABILENE, Texas - Hardin-Simmons' second-ranked women's soccer team will play Wheaton (Ill.) at 3 p.m. Friday in the 2012 NCAA Division III Women's Soccer Sectional at Washington University in St. Louis.

      The second game of the day will be between No. 3 Washington and No. 14 Concordia College (Moorhead) at 5:30 p.m. on Friday. The winners of the two semifinal games will play for the sectional title and the right to advance to the NCAA Division III Final Four in San Antonio.

      Ticket prices are $6 for adults and $3 for students. All three games will be broadcast live on the Bear Sports Network (, along with live stats on the Washington University Athletics website.

      The Cowgirls (18-02) advanced to the Sectional round after defeating No. 4 Trinity University 7-6 on penalty kicks after a 2-2 tie through two overtimes on Sunday in San Antonio, Texas. The Cowgirls are making their 10th consecutive and 12th NCAA Tournament appearance. Hardin-Simmons has a 16-9-6(.613) overall record in NCAA Tournament play and captured the program's first national championship in 2010.

      Washington University (18-1-1) advanced to the sectional round for the ninth time in school history after posting a 3-2-overtime victory over No. 16 Thomas More College in the second round on Sunday. The Bears are making their seventh consecutive and 12th overall appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament. Washington U. has a 21-10-5 (.652) overall record in NCAA Tournament play with a pair of Final Four appearances in 1997 and 2009.

     Concordia-Moorhead (17-3-2) defeated California Lutheran University 3-2 on Sunday in Waverly, Iowa, to advance to the sectional semifinals for the second straight year and the third time in the past four seasons. The Cobbers are making their fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and sixth in the past seven seasons. Concordia is 6-5-1 (.542) in six appearances in the NCAA Tournament.

     No. 11 Wheaton (19-3-2) posted a 7-0 win over the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater on Saturday in Wheaton, Ill., to advance to the Sectional. The Thunder are making their 16th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament and have an all-time record of 43-9-5 (.798), the second most wins in Division III history. Wheaton has made six Final Four appearances and won National Championships in 2004, 2006 and 2007.

               The four teams have a combined 72-7-7 (.878) overall record with eight Final Four appearances and four National Championships, all coming since 2004. This is the Cowgirls sixth career appearance in the sectional round.


Second Weekend

Hardin-Simmons is making its 12th NCAA Tournament Appearance and its 10th straight. HSU is 16-9-6 all-time in the NCAAs and is 5-1 in the six PK sessions. The Cowgirls have advanced to the round of 16 on six different occasions (2001, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2012) and are 1-3-1 (won the PK) in the round of 16. The only other team in the sectional that the Cowgirls have played is Wheaton. The Thunder won 3-0 in the 2006 sectional final at Wheaton.


Conference Dominance

Hardin-Simmons has an NCAA record 157-match unbeaten streak in conference play dating back to 2000 (the first game of Marcus Wood's coaching career). HSU has won 15 of the 17 ASC titles, including 10 straight.


Who Wood Have Thunk It?

Head coach Marcus Wood has a career record of 236-26-21 in 13 years as HSU's head coach and ranks third all-time He is ranked third all-time in collegiate women's soccer history with an .871 winning percentage. He trails only Scott Frey of Messiah and Anson Dorrance of North Carolina. He is the second winningest active coach on the Division III level, behind Frey.  He was named the 2010 NSCAA Division III coach of the year and has been named the ASC Coach of the year six times.


Remember The Alamo

Hardin-Simmons is hoping to get back to Texas for two more games. San Antonio is a four-hour drive from Abilene, but the Cowgirls feel right at home in San Antonio. The NCAA Final Four will be played in San Antonio on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. HSU won the 2010 national title in San Antonio and advanced last week over No. 4 Trinity.


Super Server

Senior forward Katie Kuykendall has 84 career assists which is second all-time in all NCAA divisions. She leads the Cowgirls in scoring with 45 points (11 goals and 23 assists). Sixty-two of her 84 career assists have come off corner kicks or free kicks. She ranks second all-time at HSU in scoring with 176 points (46 G, 84 A). She is a two-time ASC Offensive MVP.


Using Your Head

Junior center defender Courtney Cramer is a dangerous weapon in the air and leads the Cowgirls with 14 goals (13 of which have come off Kuykendall corner serves). She also leads a stingy defense that has allowed only six goals all season. She was named the American Southwest Conference Defensive Player of the Year and carries a 3.97 GPA.


Don't Mind PKs

The Cowgirls have never been afraid of penalty kick situations under head coach Marcus Wood. In the NCAA Tournament the Cowgirls are now 5-1 all-time in PKs. Then a freshman, Christi Carr claimed all-American honors after a pair of PK wins in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. She also added a PK win over Trinity the next year. In 2008, the Cowgirls lost in PKs to Claremont Mudd Scripps. HSU beat Otterbein in PKs behind a pair of saves from first-year starter Rebecca Roth in the 2010 national semifinals. Lexi Stinson added a win last weekend against Trinity in PKs to continue the tradition of first-year starters having success in PKs.  


Making The Most Of It

Junior Devon Howard has been an impact player since stepping on campus, but unfortunately for her was injured during the conference tournament of her freshman year. She missed the entire postseason in the magical 2010 run. However she has made up for it in the past two postseasons. Howard has scored a goal in three of the four NCAA games over the last two years. She has had to help take up some of the scoring slack the Cowgirls are missing with veteran forwards Jessica Stuckey and Vivian Wells out for the season with injuries. For the year she has 10 goals and 17 assists.


Ball Winner

Sophomore Shannon Byrd has been a force for the Cowgirls in the midfield, consistently winning 50-50 balls at a high rate. She got a late start to the season coming in after offseason ankle surgery.


Backline Gets It Done

The Cowgirls have one of the top defensive backlines in the country and it is led by two outside backs that have great speed and the Cramer twins in the middle. Christina Hartsfield and Julianne Kucera both have great speed and are not afraid to initiate the attack after winning battles in the back and Courtney and Caitlin Cramer are great athletes.


Katie Clutch

Sophomore Katie Haltiwanger has been clutch for the Cowgirls this season off the bench. She had the equalizing goal in the game against Trinity on Sunday and also had the game-winner against Texas-Tyler in overtime.


Taylor Time

Junior Taylor Thigpen has been a strong scorer for the Cowgirls throughout her career with 35 career goals and 32 assists. She seems to thrive in the big games as she had a hat-trick in the ASC Championship game to earn tournament MVP honors and also had the only goal in the win over Chapman. She has nine goals and six assists on the season.


All-Conference Accolades

Courtney Cramer was named the ASC Defensive Player of the Year and Katie Kuykendall was named the Offensive Player of the Year for the second straight year. All seven players the Cowgirls were eligible to nominate for the all-conference team were named to the first team. Kuykendall and Cramer were joined by Devon Howard, Shannon Byrd, Julianne Kucera, Taylor Thigpen and Lexi Stinson. Christina Hartsfield was named the sportsmanship athlete of the year. 


Quick Hits

The Cowgirls have outscored their opponents 88-6 on the year...The Cowgirls have a 0.29 goals against average and starter Lexi Stinson has a 0.32 GAA in almost 1400 minutes in goal...HSU has six players on the team with 15 or more career goals -- Katie Kuykendall (46), Taylor Thigpen (35), Devon Howard (25), Courtney Cramer (24) Austin Ricker (20) and Kati McCarty (15)...The Cowgirls are ranked No. 2 in both national polls heading into the postseason.

Information for this story provided by HSU Sports Information.

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