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Owens soccer begins chase for national title Monday

The No. 13 Owens Community College women's soccer team has been seeded ninth in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I National Tournament.

The 12-team tournament, which will be played in Melbourne, Fla., features four pools of three teams.

 

The Express will take on No. 4 Darton State (Ga.) College (fourth seed) at 4 p.m. on Nov. 18 in their first match of the tournament. On Nov. 19, the Express will play the fifth seed, No. 5 Butler Community College (KS) at 4 p.m. Darton and Butler will play each other on Nov. 20 at 4 p.m.

Darton State enters the tournament with a 20-1 record overall, including a 12-match win streak, while Butler enters the tournament 21-2 overall with a 14-match win streak. The Express, meanwhile, enter the tournament with a 17-2 record and a 15-match win streak.

Should the Express advance out of their pool, they would play in the national semifinals on Nov. 22. The national championship game will be Nov. 23.

Owens CC Express women's soccer head coach Mary Whisler was named Region XII Coach of the Year, while three of her players earned postseason honors.

Whisler, in her third year as head coach at Owens, was named the region's top coach after leading the Express to the program's first Region XII tournament championship last weekend. It is the first time Whisler has won the award.

In three seasons coaching the Express, Whisler is 42-12-3, including a 17-2 record this year. In fact, the Express are currently on a school-record 15-match winning streak. She has also improved the team's win total each year (12 in 2011, 13 in 2012 and 17 this year).

Sophomore forward Jessica Grindle (Northwood) and sophomore midfielder Jill Burkholder (Bryan) were named First Team All-Region XII.

Grindle is the team's leading scorer with 21 goals and five assists. She is the region's leading scorer and ranks in the top 30 in the nation in goals scored and points. In her career, Grindle has 27 goals and eight assists.

Burkholder is second on the team in goals and assists with 13 and seven, respectively. She has 21 career goals and 16 career assists. This is her second consecutive first team All-Region XII selection.

Both of those players were also named to the Region XII All-Tournament team, while Grindle was named the MVP after scoring two goals in two games.

Aside from those two, sophomore defender Marissa Ramirez (Northwood) earned second team All-Region XII honors for the second consecutive season. She has one goal and two assists this year, following a one assist freshman season. She has been a huge part in the Express producing 19 shutouts over the past two seasons, including eight this year.

The Express (17-2) will take their 15-match winning streak to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) D-I National Tournament Nov. 18-23 in Melbourne, Fla. They will compete with 11 other of the best teams in the country for a national title.

The Express also moved up to No. 13 in the nation following the release of this week's poll, which gives this year's team the highest ranking in program history. Last year's team was ranked No. 14 late in the year.

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