College Sports

Centre College women’s soccer vying for NCAA title

Herald-Leader Staff Report

Centre College celebrated its 4-0 victory over Calvin in the NCAA Elite Eight at Pittsburgh, Pa., on Nov. 21.
Centre College celebrated its 4-0 victory over Calvin in the NCAA Elite Eight at Pittsburgh, Pa., on Nov. 21.

Jay Hoffman has built a women’s soccer powerhouse at Centre College in Danville.

The 12th-year coach has a career record of 164-60-18 and has led the Colonels to five consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and six overall.

All that said, Centre has arrived at a never-before-seen plateau this weekend.

The Colonels (21-1-1) will make their first appearance in the NCAA Division III Final Four when they take on Williams College (19-1-2) of Williamstown, Mass., on Friday afternoon at Kansas City, Mo.

Centre, which set a record for victories in a season with a 4-0 win over Calvin in the Elite Eight, has won 13 games in a row entering the national semifinals. Hoffman has built his powerhouse largely around players from Central Kentucky and elsewhere around the state.

Junior forward Destinie Graves, who helped lead Tates Creek to the state high school championship and was named Miss Soccer in 2012, transferred to Centre from the University of Kentucky after her freshman season. She leads the Colonels with a school-record tying 26 goals this season, tied for eighth-most in Division III. Graves, who is also tied for the team lead with nine assists, was named Southern Athletic Association Offensive Player of the Year. She scored her first career hat trick in the Colonels’ Elite Eight win.

“Des gave her heart to the program and believes the Centre way,” Hoffman told the Advocate Messenger of Danville. “She puts herself second and the team first. In doing that, she has found the utmost passion for the game and this has made her an amazing player.”

Senior forward Alex Combs (Boyle County) is second on the team with 13 goals.

Centre also boasts the SAA’s top defensive player in junior Tori Dillard from Bowling Green. The Colonels have outscored opponents 69-12, posting 15 shutouts. Bolstering the defense are senior Shelby Ratcliff (Scott County), junior Shannon Murray (Mercer County), sophomore Mackenzie Kern (Cincinnati) and junior goalkeeper Olivia Alford (Kentucky Country Day).

The roster includes 13 Kentuckians. Among them are Sarah Youkilis (Lexington Catholic), Rachel Geil (Henry Clay), Mary Ford Rodes (Henry Clay) and Madeline Walter (Paul Laurence Dunbar).

Centre’s previous deepest tournament run came last season, when Hoffman’s Colonels were eliminated in the Elite Eight.

Friday marks the first meeting between Centre and Williams, which was defeated in the title game last season.

Friday

NCAA Division III semifinals

At Kansas City, Mo.

Noon (EST) — Messiah (22-0-2) vs. Washington (Mo.) (20-2-0)

2:30 p.m. (EST) — Centre (21-1-1) vs. Williams (19-1-2)

Live video: http://www.ncaa.com/liveschedule/2015/12/04

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