On Monday afternoon, the Swarthmore volleyball team gathered in the Science Center 183 to watch the live unveiling of the NCAA Division III playoff bracket. Nervous anticipation filled the room as the Garnet, winner of 21 matches during the season, was dependent on an elusive at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament after falling to Johns Hopkins in the Centennial Conference championship match.
A few minutes into the unveiling, the team's prayers were answered, as Swarthmore's name appeared on the screen. The team erupted into euphoric cheer. Head coach Harleigh Chwastyk simply put her head in her hands.
"My first thought was that we finally did it, after so many tries and so many close calls," says Chwastyk, who is participating in the NCAA playoff tournament for the first time in her 22 years as a collegiate player and coach. "I also thought about all of the players that have come before this team, and everyone who has played a part in building the program to this point."
In its NCAA first round match, the Garnet will play Randolph-Macon on the campus of Stevenson University on Friday, Nov. 10 at 12:30 p.m. The Yellow Jackets finished the regular season with a 23-6 record and claimed the Old Dominion Athletic Conference's automatic bid with a 3-2 win over Washington & Lee. It will be the first-ever meeting between the two teams.
With Chwastyk at the helm, Swarthmore has won at least 20 matches in four consecutive seasons and has qualified for the conference tournament in eight of the last nine years.
There was similar excitement (but significantly less tension) at the bracket unveiling for the women's soccer team, which knew that it would be in the NCAA Tournament after securing an automatic berth by winning the Centennial Conference Championship on Sunday against Johns Hopkins. In the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive season, the women's soccer team will travel to Geneva, N.Y., where it will face Susquehanna University.
The first two rounds of the women's soccer tournament are hosted by William Smith College. The Herons, ranked No. 3 nationally, host Lasell College at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Swarthmore's contest with Susquehanna follows at 1:30 p.m.
You can follow each team's progress this weekend by visiting the links below: