Hardin-Simmons Set For Trip To The Final Four

Hardin-Simmons Set For Trip To The Final Four
Hardin-Simmons heads to Greensboro, N.C., for the 2017 NCAA Division III Women's Soccer Championship this weekend and it is a star-studded field with the teams combining for an 85-2-2 record on the year and all four teams have been to the Final Four before...HSU advanced with wins over Methodist, Trinity, Carnegie Mellon and Ohio Northern...The Cowgirls are riding a 45-game unbeaten streak dating back to a 1-0 loss in the season opener last year...HSU fell on penalty kicks to Washington (Mo.) the eventual national champion in 2016...The Cowgirls are making their 15th straight trip to the NCAA Tournament and 17th in school history...The Cowgirls are 24-12-9 all-time in the NCAAs and advanced in six of the nine penalty kick situations...The Cowgirls won the NCAA title in 2010 in San Antonio with a 2-1 win over Messiah. 
Where To Watch 
You can watch all three games from the NCAA Championship on NCAA.com. The games will be called by Dave McHugh and Ira Thor. HSU will be hosting a watch party in Behrens Chapel. 
About Hardin-Simmons
HSU was established in 1891 as a private, coeducational, liberal arts university. Affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas and accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, students of all faiths, ethnicities, races, and walks of life are welcome. The mission of Hardin-Simmons University is to be a community dedicated to providing excellence in education enlightened by Christian faith and values. A large community with a small-town feel, Abilene is a leading educational, business, and medical hub in West Texas with a metropolitan population of approximately 120,000. There are numerous entertainment options available for college students, including a variety of restaurants, shops, and commercial businesses. The main HSU campus sits on 96 beautifully landscaped acres, with the total property encompassing 220 acres. Comprised of 33 major buildings, including eight classroom buildings, six residence halls, and two apartment complexes, the HSU campus is a place where students feel at home. HSU plays in the American Southwest Conference, which is a 13-team conference with teams from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas. 
High-Scoring Attack 
The Cowgirls have one of the top-scoring attacks in the country, but the Cowgirls have also shown in the postseason they can grind out games against better competition as well.  HSU has scored three or more goals in 17 of the 23 games this season. HSU's 4.78 goals per game ranks third nationally. 
Defense Too  
HSU is known for its high-scoring offense but it prides itself on defense first. The Cowgirls have allowed only seven goals this season and just 10 over the last two years. They have a defensive back line that has three senior starters, including All-American center back Kirsten Parrish and the steady Tiffany Van Hoose who is great at keeping the Cowgirl defense in shape. Outside backs Kendell Groom and Maddie McAdams are both great athletes and often start the Cowgirl attack out of the back. Defensive midfielder Sarah Krisa is a great ballwinner and does a good job with organization. Goalkeeper Caitlin Christiansen has a career 0.22 goals against average and her 0.326 this season ranks fifth nationally. She has made several spectacular saves in the postseason. 
Kicking Kenne
Last year it was Kenne Kessler's turn to be injured. She played all season on a badly injured ankle and was still solid with 13 goals and nine assists. This year with Jones out she has taken it to another level. She leads the nation in scoring with 37 goals, which is a school and conference record and tied for sixth-best all-time in Division III history. She was named the ASC offensive player of the year. The NCAA record for goals in a season is 43 and only five players in Division III history have scored more than her 37. 
On The Road 
HSU is the only one of the four teams that didn't host the first four games of the playoffs on their home field. HSU advanced by traveling to Geneva, N.Y., and beating Carnegie Mellon and Ohio Northern. 
Survive and Advance   
The Cowgirls were able to host the first and second rounds for the first time since 2010. HSU beat Methodist 3-1 in the first game and then had to rally to beat arch-rival Trinity in the second round. It was the 12th time in 17 career NCAA Tournament appearances that the two teams met. The Cowgirls trailed for the first time all season and were trailing 2-1 when Kenne Kessler tied the game in the 82nd minute. Evan Pipkin then sent the Cowgirls to the sectional round with a goal in the final minute. In the sectionals, the Cowgirls won both games 1-0 and both goals came off corner kicks.  
Put It On The Ground
HSU's biggest strength over the years has been its ability to capitalize on corner kicks and other set pieces. HSU has scored directly off of 43 corner kicks on the year. Senior center back Kirsten Parrish has 14 goals and all but one have come off of a set piece. When the Cowgirls won the 2010 national title both goals came off corner kicks in the opening minutes of the game.    
Team Before Self 
All good teams have a team before self mentality, but that is especially true for the Cowgirls. The most shining example is senior forward Kami Jones. A year ago Jones was the Cowgirls' top goal scorer and a first-team All-American after scoring 23 goals and handing out 16 assists. Jones injured her knee in the seventh game of the season and missed the rest of the regular season. She faced a decision to come back and play on a knee that is not 100 percent or take a medical hardship which she would have qualified for and come back next season. She decided she wanted to give it a go in the postseason with the group of seniors she came in with. She announced her arrival back with a bang, scoring a goal in her first start in the ASC semifinals against UT-Tyler just 1:30 into the game. Her presence alone makes it easier for the rest of the team because of the attention necessary to keep her in check. She has great all-around speed and can finish in traffic.  
Repeat MVP 
Senior center back Kirsten Parrish won her second straight ASC defensive player of the year award. Her defense only allowed three goals on the year in league play. She also is a huge part of the Cowgirl offense as she uses her 5-10 frame to get advantage in the air. She was also a first-team academic all-American a year ago. 
Coaching Accolades
Hardin-Simmons' women's soccer staff has been named the United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division III West region staff of the year. It is the sixth time that Marcus Wood has won the award in his 18 seasons at HSU. Wood has three part-time assistants that all work on a volunteer basis and do a great job with the program when they can be with the team.
Brent Camp has been with the Cowgirls for 12 years. He is also the head coach at Abilene High School. "Brent adds so much value," said Wood. "It begins with the fact that he is one of the greatest competitors in the history of Hardin-Simmons Soccer. To our players, he is a big teddy bear but get him into the heat of battle and he is someone you want on your side. He is a winner and a champion and his leadership greatly influences our TEAM every year."
Manuel Cordova is in his fourth season on the HSU staff. He is the head coach at Abilene Wylie High School. "He reminds me of myself at a younger age," said Wood. "He is a student of the game. He works his socks off. He is a tactician and a problem solver. The war room is a fun room with Brent and Manuel when we are deciding game strategy and we know the opponent is special. Manuel's future in the game is very bright."
Taylor (Thigpen) Dudley is in her first season with the Cowgirls as an assistant. "Taylor is one of the great legends of our program and she decided to help us out in 2017," said Wood. "She leads a finishing practice every week. Taylor was a world-class ball striker. Now she is passing her wisdom along to our next generation of players. It makes me very proud watching her teach the details. She was a feisty player and now she is a feisty coach."
ASC Champs
The Cowgirls won their 15th straight American Southwest Conference title by defeating Mary Hardin-Baylor, 3-0. Kenne Kessler scored twice and Evan Pipkin added the other goal for the Cowgirls. HSU had advanced to the final with a 7-0 win over rival UT-Tyler in the semifinals and a 3-0 win over LeTourneau in the quarterfinals. Kirsten Parrish, Pipkin, Kami Jones and Kessler were named to the all-tournament team and Kessler was named the MVP. 
Five Cowgirls Named CoSIDA Academic All-District 
Five members of the Cowgirl soccer team were selected to the CoSIDA Academic all-district teams. Caitlin Christiansen, Kenne Kessler, Sarah Krisa, Josey Meyer and Kirsten Parrish were all named to the squad. Kami Jones, the 2016 Academic all-American of the Year, missed too many games to qualify for nomination. Parrish was also a first-team academic all-American last year. The Cowgirls have a 3.53 team GPA and have 10 players on the team with GPAs above 3.9. 
Cowgirls Load Up On ASC Awards
The Cowgirls dominated the American Southwest Conference postseason awards. Kenne Kessler was named the offensive MVP and Kirsten Parrish was named the defensive MVP for the second straight year. They were joined on the first team by Josey Meyer and Kendell Groom. Sarah Krisa, Caitlin Christiansen and Tiffany Van Hoose were all named to the second team. ASC teams are only allowed to nominate seven players for the all-conference team. 
Supporting Cast Coming Up Big 
It's easy to get caught up in the Cowgirls' mind-boggling offensive numbers and the star power. However, in the postseason the Cowgirls have received goals from the supporting cast to advance. In the win over Trinity, Evan Pipkin scored the game winner in the final minute. It was just her third goal of the season, but she was in the right place at the right time to finish off a great pass from Jones. Against Ohio Northern, Sarah Krisa was in the right spot to finish a rebound off a blocked shot off a corner. It was just her fourth goal of the year. In the win over Carnegie Mellon Morgan McAdams scored when she bent in a corner. It was also just her third goal of the year. 
Sharing The Ball 
Junior Josey Meyer leads the nation with 24 assists. She has a great service, both in the run of play and on set pieces. She is tied for the school record for assists in a season with former all-American Katie Kuykendall. The Cowgirls lead the nation as a team with 97 assists on its nation-leading 110 goals. HSU has 15 double assists on the year. 
Don't Overlook Her Greatness
Junior Caitlin Christiansen is often overlooked because she does not get a lot of scoring chances against her. She has been up to the task saving tough shot, after tough shot in the NCAAs. She has a lifetime 0.22 goals against average, which is the best active mark in Division III and she has a 0.326 this season, which is fifth nationally. She was named second-team all-ASC, despite saving almost 90 percent of the shots she faced. She is 1-1 in NCAA penalty kick shootouts - beating Centre and losing to Washington. 
Experienced Depth 
The Cowgirls have an experienced bench. Olivia Hartman has started 20 games and has proven in her career to come up big at big moments. She has six goals and six assists on the year. Taylor Bernal started the nine games in Jones' absence and she has six goals on the year. Tori Waters is one of the team's leaders and she has started two games and is a great server from the back line as well. Kyleigh Ellis and Lexie Kramber both give the Cowgirl height advantages when they go into the game. Casey Carrillo is more than a capable second option at goalkeeper if the need arises. Freshmen Rachel Bean and Elly Green each have eight goals on the year and Sofia Quijano has five goals and freshman Ellie Ratliff is going to be a great player on the backline. Hadley Schwierking and Haley Bush have both played in 19 or more games this season. 
Waters Gets The Nod 
Senior Tori Waters will be the Cowgirls' representative to speak at the NCAA prechampionship banquet. 
Elite 90 Award
HSU's nominee for the Elite 90 Award is Kami Jones. She has a 4.0 as a molecular biology and biochemistry double major. She was named the CoSIDA women's soccer Athlete of the Year last year, but did not qualify for the award this year because she did not meet the playing time requirement. 
Career Record Book Update 
1. 198 - Amy Kuykendall (76g 46a) - 2006-10
2. 178 - Katie Kuykendall (47g 84a) - 2009-12
3. 173 - Andrea Gilbreth (70g 33a) - 1997-00
4. 170 - Kenne Kessler (70g 30a) - 2015-17
5. 167 - Whitney Piendak (67g 33a) - 2003-06
6. 156 - Kami Jones (57g 42a) - 2014-17
1. 76 - Amy Kuykendall - 2006-10
2. 70 - Kenne Kessler - 2015-17
70 - Andrea Gilbreth - 1997-00
4. 67 - Whitney Piendak - 2003-06
5. 60 - Melanie Forster - 1996-99
6. 57 - Kami Jones - 2014-17
1. 84 - Katie Kuykendall - 2009-12
2. 51 - Josey Meyer - 2015-17
51 - Taylor Thigpen - 2009,11-13
4. 47 - Mindi Zamora - 2003-06
5. 46 - Amy Kuykendall - 2006-10
6. 42 - Devon Howard - 2010-13
42 - Kami Jones - 2014-17
Save percent (minimum 30 saves)
1. .908 - Caitlin Christiansen (9 GA, 89 saves) - 2015-17
Goals against avg (minimum 1000 minutes)
1. 0.22 - Caitlin Christiansen (9 GA, 3738 min) - 2015-17
2. 0.26 - Rebecca Roth (13 GA, 4527 min) - 2008-11
Season Record Updates
1. 84 - Kenne Kessler (37g 10a) - 2017
2. 74 - Amy Kuykendall (26g 22a) - 2006
3. 72 - Whitney Piendak (30g 12a) - 2006
4. 65 - Kami Jones (25g 15a) - 2015
5. 64 - Amy Kuykendall (28g 8a) - 2010
6. 62 - Kelley Tragesser (23g 16a) - 2001
62 - Kami Jones (23g 16a) - 2016
8. 55 - Andrea Gilbreth (25g 5a) - 2000
9. 51 - Kenne Kessler (20g 11a) - 2015
51 - Katie Kuykendall (18g 15a) - 2011
1. 37 - Kenne Kessler - 2017
2. 30 - Whitney Piendak - 2006
3. 28 - Amy Kuykendall - 2010
4. 26 - Amy Kuykendall - 2006
5. 25 - Kami Jones - 2015
25 - Andrea Gilbreth - 2000
7. 23 - Kelley Tragesser - 2001
23 - Kami Jones - 2016
9. 20 - Melanie Forster - 1997
20 - Kenne Kessler - 2015
1. 24 - Josey Meyer - 2017
24 - Katie Kuykendall - 2010
3. 23 - Katie Kuykendall - 2012
4. 22 - Amy Kuykendall - 2006
22 - Katie Kuykendall - 2009
6. 19 - Taylor Thigpen - 2013
7. 18 - Devon Howard - 2012
8. 17 - Taylor Thigpen - 2011
9. 16 - Kelley Tragesser - 2001
16 - Kami Jones - 2016
 Goals against avg (minimum 800 minutes)
1. 0.08 - Lexi Stinson (1 GA, 1090 min) - 2014
2. 0.16 - Caitlin Christiansen (3 GA, 1733 min) - 2016
3. 0.19 - Rachel Goold (3 GA, 1425 min) - 2004
4. 0.27 - Rebecca Roth (6 GA, 2030 min) - 2010
5. 0.33 - Caitlin Christiansen (6 GA, 1658 min) - 2017
Most wins
1. 23 - Caitlin Christiansen (23-0-0) - 2017
23 - Rebecca Roth (23-0-1) - 2010