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SCIAC postseason yields mixed results

After competing in its first SCIAC season, Chapman athletic teams experienced a wave of mixed results. While some saw their seasons end, in most sports, teams that finished in SCIAC’s top four were able to advance to their respective SCIAC tournament, in which the winner earned a conference championship title and an automatic qualification into the NCAA Division III playoffs.

Leading the Panthers’ postseason effort, the women’s soccer team snagged its first SCIAC title after defeating visiting Pomona-Pitzer College 4-1 at Wilson Field Saturday. With the win, Chapman clinched an automatic berth into the playoffs this weekend and will wait to hear who and where they will play in the NCAA selection show set to air Monday at 10:30 a.m. at NCAA.com.

Head Coach Courtney Calderon said the playoff guarantee brings ease to an otherwise stressful wait.

“There are a lot of what-ifs regarding where and who we will play, so knowing that we are already in is nice,” Calderon said.

The Panthers (16-5-1, 9-5) have been on a hot streak, winning a noteworthy 12 of their last 13 games. Despite a lackluster 2-4 start to the season, senior forward Aimee Evans said that while the prospect of the postseason was intimidating for some, the team was careful to take it one game at a time.

“It’s all about focusing on one game and one game only – play hard for 45 minutes, regroup and play hard for another 45 minutes. That way if we lost, we knew we gave it our all. Fortunately, we were able to pull out the win,” Evans said.

The men’s soccer team wasn’t so lucky. Finishing with an 8-10-1 (7-8-1) overall record, Chapman saw its season end at the hands of Occidental College in a 2-1 loss at Wilson Field two weeks ago. The defeat gave the Panthers’ their first losing season since 2007, as they were unable to qualify for the postseason conference tournament.

In a season-long scuffle with Cal Lutheran for the top seed in SCIAC, the women’s volleyball team fell to the Regals in a 3-0 sweep Saturday evening, dropping both the championship title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III playoffs this weekend. With their postseason fate left in limbo, the Panthers (23-6, 14-2) will find out if they qualify for playoffs in the NCAA selection show airing Monday at 8:00 a.m. at NCAA.com.

Unlike soccer and volleyball, the men’s water polo team automatically advances to the SCIAC tournament, regardless of conference standings. Chapman (13-14, 6-2) enters the eight-team tournament with the No. 3 seed and will face No. 6 seed Cal Lutheran Friday. If the Panthers finish the tournament in the top two, they will receive the playoff bid.

Sophomore driver Mark Alvarado says that despite the low seeding, the team has a good chance of taking the tournament.

“The tricky thing about postseason is that you never know which game will be your last,” Alvarado said “We feel confident with where we are at on the season and are ready to be the underdogs that take the title.”

With a matchup against SCIAC leading Cal Lutheran (7-1, 6-0) Saturday, Chapman football (6-2, 5-1) has a chance to force a three-way tie or win the conference outright with a victory. If the Panthers and University of Redlands (5-3, 5-1) win, Chapman, Cal Lu and Redlands tie for the SCIAC championship. If Chapman wins and Redlands loses the Panthers win the SCIAC, and if Chapman loses its final game Cal Lu will be crowned.

There is no SCIAC tournament so the winner of the conference will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III playoffs and the others will have to rely at-large bid from the selection committee.

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