Baltimore County, Md. – There was a loud, excited roar on Tuesday that could be heard at approximately 10:05 a.m. from the Wellness & Athletics Center. That sound was members of the Knights women's soccer reacting to news that the team had earned an at-large bid to the NJCAA Division I Women's Soccer Championships in Melbourne, Florida.
The Knights (19-2) enter as the No. 11 seed and are in Pool B with No. 2 and host Eastern Florida and No. 7 Gillette. It's the first time the program has been to the national tournament since 1995.
CCBC Essex's resume to nationals has a 19-game winning streak, Region XX Championship, and Northeast District Runner-Up finish.
Their only two losses of the season are to the No. 1 ranked and defending national champion Monroe College (Bronx, N.Y.).
The Knights cruised through the regional tournament, defeating College of Southern Maryland and Frederick Community College 10-0 and 5-0, respectively.
In the district round, Essex faced Sussex County in the semifinals and used two Kara Dietrich (Perry Hall) goals and three Sam Tornatore saves to get by the Skylanders 2-0.
CCBC Essex was able to improve upon its first meeting versus Monroe, but still came up short, falling 6-1 last Saturday.
"We played extremely well versus a very good Sussex team," said head coach Joe Fiedler. "Then ran up against a solid Monroe team less than 20 hours later."
Despite the loss to Monroe, the Knights had built a strong argument to be one of 12 teams in Melbourne.
During their 19-game winning stream, CCBC Essex defeated four ranked opponents, won its first Maryland Juco Athletic Conference title in 17 years, and first Region XX Division I championship since 2012.
"Our expectations at the beginning of the season were to win the Maryland Juco Conference title and Region XX Division I Tournament," Fiedler said. "Making the national tournament is the icing on the cake. Now we have to raise our expectations."
The Knights face Eastern Florida on Monday and Gillette on Tuesday in pool play. Both games are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. kickoffs.
The winners of the four pools move on to the semifinals, which are scheduled for Friday, November 22, 2019.
The Knights enter the tournament with the second most goals scored in the nation (120) behind Dietrich, the nations second leading scorer with 51.
But don't fall asleep on the Knights' striking abilities. They have multiple weapons after Dietrich including Dani Zacierka (12 goals), Taylor West (10 goals), Ryleigh Fachler (nine goals) and Mikayla Boyle (eight goals).
Fiedler's squad has also been stingy with allowing goals, averaging 1.66 per game, and has shut out its opponents 10 times this season.
CCBC Essex women's soccer last won an NJCAA National Championship in 1993 and has three overall (1983, 1989).
Games can be found at www.njcaatv.com. A single game pass is available for $4.99 and the entire tournament package is $14.99.
CCBC Essex Athletics will also have live updates on Twitter at @CCBCEssexSports.