HOBOKEN, N.J. — In Michelyne Pinard's mind, the toughest first-round draw in the 2011 NCAA Tournament will line-up opposite her Williams College (10-4-3) squad Saturday when the Ephs face off against Virginia Wesleyan (18-3-0) at Steven Institute.
The No. 15-ranked Marlins will be appearing in the seventh straight NCAA Tournament. Virginia Wesleyan has posted an 18-3 overall record this season and has outscored opponents, 69-9.
"I think it's as tough a first-round game out there," Pinard said. "Virginia Wesleyan is one of the best teams in the tournament. That said, I think our team responds to playing great competition. As tough as we know it's going to be, we're excited about the match-up."
The Ephs square off against the Marlins at 1:30 p.m. The game will be webcast on Empire8tv. There will be live stats HERE. The first game of the pod will feature Westfield State vs. host Stevens Institute at 11 a.m.
Saturday's winners play Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Marlins earned an at-large bid into the field of 64 after reaching the championship game of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference and lost to Lynchburg College, 1-0. No. 20-ranked Williams also received an at-large berth into the tournament after falling to rival Amherst in the NESCAC championship game, 2-1.
The Marlins will be led offensively by a trio of offensive threats in juniors Jessica Edelman, Breanne Ingargiola and Christina Fernandes. Edelman paced the team with 12 goals, including five game-winners, and 14 assists for 38 points. Her 14 assists are fifth best in the country.
Ingargiola is second on the Marlins with 29 points on 11 goals and seven assists, while Fernandes has posted nine goals and eight assists for 26 points. Both Ingargiola and Fernandes have three game-winning goals to their credit.
Defensively, Virginia Wesleyan is one of the toughest teams to score on in the country, ranking 12th among Division III schools with a 0.42 goals-against average and has posted 14 shutouts. In goal, the Marlins will count on sophomore Erica Keil, who boats a 13-2 record with a .879 save percentage. Keil is 17th in the nation with a 0.47 GAA.
The Ephs are led by senior tri-captains Brett Eisenhart ,Nicole Stenquist and Sachi Siegelman. Eisenhart led Williams with 10 goals and one assist for 21 points, along the way setting the career goal-scoring record with 41. She and Siegelman, an anchor of the Ephs defensive backfield, were First-Team All-NESCAC selections. As a defensive unit, Williams has allowed only 10 goals in 17 games this season. In addition to her defensive duties, Siegelman has scored two goals.
Junior midfielder Caitlin Clark tops the Ephs with seven assists and has nine points total. She and junior back Chelsea Davies were Second Team All-NESCAC selections. First-year back Lilly Wllenbach is second on the team with four goals. Junior goalkeeper Laura Wann has compiled a 0.58 goals against average this season and a .864 save percentage.