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Region 24 NJCAA Division 1 Soccer Tourney Seeds, Schedule Released

Article by: Pete Hayes,

GODFREY — That Lewis and Clark Community College’s women’s soccer team is seeded No. 1 in the upcoming Region 24 Tournament came as no surprise Wednesday. But now, the Trailblazers know how the rest of the field will shape up.

The Trailblazers receive a first-round bye in the Region 24 Tournament, which begins Oct. 25 at the home field of the remaining higher-seeded teams.

L&C (14-0 overall and 6-0 against region opponents) is ranked No. 6 in the latest NJCAA Division I national poll.

The first-round women’s games include:

No. 7 John Wood at No. 2 seed Southwestern Illinois College (13-4-1 overall, 4-1-1 region) in Belleville at 2 p.m., No. 6 Heartland (3-11-1, 1-5) and No. 3 Illinois Central College (10-4, 4-2) at 6 p.m. in East Peoria and No. 5 Parkland (4-8-1, 2-3-1) at No. 4 Kaskaskia (10-4, 4-2) at 2 p.m. in Centralia.

The semifinals, as well as the championship game, will be played at L&C, which received home-field advantage through the tournament. The semifinals on Oct. 27 will see L&C take on the lowest-seeded first-round survivor at noon at L&C. The other two first-round winners will play at 2 p.m. at L&C.

The championship game Oct. 28 is set for noon. The winner will advance to the Central District Tournament, which will be played at the home field of the Region 24 Tourney winner, meaning that if L&C wins the region tourney, it will have home-field advantage in the district tourney as well.

The district tourney champ will advance to the NJCAA National Tournament Nov. 16-17 in Foley, Alabama.

“Having home-field is really important,” L&C women’s coach Tim Rooney said. “That’s the main thing we were going for in the regular season. But now that we have it, we have to make good use of it.

“We have to come ready to play every day,” he said. “Just because we’re at home doesn’t mean we don’t have to play hard. That’s something we’ve been telling the girls. Getting home-field advantage is just the first part of it.”

The Trailblazers cruised through the Region 24 portion of the schedule with only one hiccup, a narrow 2-1 win over Parkland Sept. 13 in Champaign. That game marked the only goal L&C gave up against region competition.

In six region games, L&C’s women outscored the opposition 45-1. And while the regular season gives Rooney plenty of reason to be optimistic about a deep playoff run, he knows too well that the postseason is different.

“There’s a different attitude, a different feel,” Rooney said. “Everybody knows that one loss and your season is over. You can’t sit back and say look how good we were this year, because everybody is going to give you their best game.”

The Trailblazers are expected to have their full contingent of players ready for the postseason. If so, it will be the first time all season.

Last season’s top scorer, Audrey Andrzejewski, has been rehabbing from offseason ACL surgery and missed a some of the early part of this season. But she has seen more action the last two weeks of the season and Rooney feels she’s ready to go.

And playmaking sophomore midfielder Senate Letsie hasn’t played since the September game at Parkland. In that game, Letsie suffered knee damage in a collision with the Parkland goalie. She has been cleared to play and could see action in the region tourney.

“I’ve said all season that if we get these girls back in time for the playoffs, that will make me happy,” Rooney said.

The L&C men’s team also drew the top seed in its Region 24 Tourney. Those final seedings and schedule are expected to be released Thursday.

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