LEBANON, Tenn.--Cumberland women's soccer is set for an opening-round match with Briar Cliff on Thursday at 4:00 p.m.
The Phoenix received the No. 2 seed in the Spring Arbor bracket and will open up the NAIA National Tournament against the No. 3 seed Briar Cliff Chargers.
The Phoenix comes in with a 12-4-1 record with seven shutouts on the ledger and have scored 44 goals in 16 matches this season. Cumberland is conceding an average 1.19 goals per game. Cumberland's four losses came to the hands of No. 1 Keiser, No. 22 Lindsey Wilson, No. 4 Cumberlands, and the 2022 Mid-South Conference Tournament Champions Campbellsville. Each of those teams are in the championship field at different host sites. The appearance in the national tournament is the eighth time the women's soccer program has made it.
Briar Cliff earned an At-Large berth into the NAIA tournament after finishing 13-2-4 on the season. The Chargers are just outside of the Top-25 in the receiving votes section of the polls. The Chargers finished second in the GPAC regular season standings with a 10-0-2 mark. Briar Cliff fell to Hastings 0-2 in the GPAC Postseason Tournament Semifinals.
The Chargers are averaging 3.05 goals per match while a stout backline has held opponents to just 0.67 goals-per-match allowed. The Chargers have used a slew of dangerous forwards to score 58 goals this season led by the GPAC Player of the Year Mady Soumare.
Soumare, a freshman from Paris, France, scored 19 goals, four game-winning goals, and had 42 total points. She ranked second in the GPAC in goals, fourth in points, and tied for the most game-winning goals. Soumare scored at least one goal in 14 games and had three multi-goal games, including a pair of hat tricks.
Briar Cliff had eight individuals recognized as GPAC All-Conference selections including the most players of any team selected to First Team All-Conference. Alongside Soumare as First Team honorees is senior midfielder Ariana Rodriguez, sophomore defender Tia Lisy, and senior keeper Ruby Campa.
Campa will be in goal for Briar Cliff starting each game this season in net. She has made 54 saves and conceded just 13 goals.
The weather may be a factor in tomorrow's match as temperatures are expected to drop as low as 25 degrees. The high for tomorrow is 33 degrees and that is around 1:00 p.m. eastern time. With a 5:00 p.m. eastern kick temperatures are expected to be around 29 degrees at the start of the match and only get cooler as the sun goes down. Snow is in the forecast tomorrow, so there is a high possibility the match will take place in the snow.
Spring Arbor has a great facility suited up with soccer-specific turf and heated benches, so they are prepared for this type of weather.
The Chargers and Phoenix have not played a common opponent this season. Briar Cliff has played four matches against teams either in the Top 25 or receiving votes in the poll and hold a 0-1-3 record against them.
This will be the first time the two programs have met in women's soccer history.
Live video and stats will be available for the match. Kickoff is slated for 4:00 p.m. CT and 5:00 p.m. ET in Spring Arbor. There is a fee to watch the game live on the website. Tickets can be purchased at the gate for $8 for adults and $5 for students.