Lady Warriors begin quest for a national title today
ROCHESTER - Ridgewater carries the No. 2 seed into the NJCAA Division III Tournament starting today at the Community and Technical College.
It's a relatively short trip for the Lady Warriors (30-8), who will meet No. 7 Dutchess (N.Y.) Community College (18-4), Jamestown (N.Y.) (26-8) and No. 3 Brookhaven (Texas) College ((23-12) today in pool play.
Central Lakes College (33-1) of Brainerd is the No. 1 seed and will meet William Rainey Harper (Ill.) College, Columbus State (Ohio) Community College (16-14) and Surry (N.C.) CC (19-3) in its pool.
Brookhaven is the defending champion.
"We beat Brookhaven at the Cedar Valley Tournament in Texas early in the season," said Ridgewater coach Val Swanson early this week. "It was close, though. The important thing is to get through the first day. You have to be one of the top two teams in your pool or you're done."
The semifinal matches are at 11 a.m. Saturday followed by the third-place and championship.
Ridgewater has a strong recent history in the national event. In 1997, the Lady Warriors took third at Chicago and the next year placed second at Toledo. They were third again in 2001, this time at Rochester.
The program hit gold in 2002 by winning state, Region 13-South, and national championships.
The Lady Warriors 16-player roster is certain to be among the longest at the tournament.
It's unusual to carry so many players, but Swanson said it has worked out well.
"There's been a lot of competition for playing time which is good," said the head coach. "But once it's decided, the players are supportive of one another."