DeLand, Fla. - The Hatters are off to the Atlantic Sun Conference Final Four this weekend hosted by Jacksonville University. Stetson has reached the semifinals for the second year in a row and for the fifth time in the last eight seasons under Head Coach Julie Orlowski.
The #6 seed Hatters will take on #2 seed Mercer University Bears on Thursday at 4:00 p.m. followed by #4 Kennesaw State versus #1 Jacksonville at 7:00 p.m. The semifinal winners will play for the championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday afternoon at 1:00 p.m.
Stetson will be taking on Mercer in their first-ever post-season meeting. The Hatters defeated the Bears 5-1 at the Stetson Soccer Complex on October 3. That was the last loss for Mercer who has since gone on a four-game winning streak and comes into the tournament with an overall record of 8-8-1.
"It is always tough to beat a team twice in one season", said Stetson head coach Julie Orlowski. "We will likely see two different teams out there and it will be a hard fought battle to the end."
"We hope to see another enthusiastic crowd of Stetson supporters like we did on Saturday against UNF", she added.
Stetson (8-10-1) reached the semifinal round after defeating #3 UNF 1-0 in Jacksonville on Saturday. Junior defender Alexis Hermosa broke the scoreless tie and tallied the winning goal on a free kick with just 70 seconds remaining in regulation.
Stetson is led by seniors Tessa Gavilsky and Katie Bitetto who this season earned first and second team all-conference recognition respectively. Gavilsky leads the league in scoring with 23 points and also in assists with nine. Bitetto is tied for second in the A-Sun in assists with seven.
Mercer is led by a trio of all-conference performers. Senior Defender Kacie Hudson and Junior Midfielder Olivia Tucker were voted first team and Senior Forward Sara Elliot made the second team. Hudson is the leading scorer for the Bears with 14 points.
Every game in this season's conference tournament will be broadcast free of charge on A-Sun TV. Hatter fans can find more information by going to www.atlanticsun.org.
- With its victory earlier in the season Stetson is now 7-5-1 all-time against Mercer.
- Stetson has reached the A-Sun Tournament eight years in a row, the longest such streak in the league.
- Stetson has reached the semifinals of the A-Sun Tournament for the second consecutive season and the 5th time since Coach Orlowski took the helm of the program.
- Stetson reached the tournament finals one time, a 1-0 loss to Jacksonville in 2006.
- Entering the weekend Stetson's all-time record in the A-Sun Tournament is 4-8-2.
- Tessa Gavilsky is Stetson's all-time leader in goals, assists and points. She has scored 34 goals, dished out 29 assists and is just three points shy of the century mark with 97 points.
- Gavilsky has won the A-Sun scoring title two seasons in a row and currently leads the league in scoring with 23 points, one point ahead of JU's Lisa Hensley, and two points in front of JU's Liz Fink. She finished with 29 points in 2008 and 30 points in 2009.
- Gavilsky has earned All-Conference honors in each of her four seasons. She was All-Freshman in 2007, First Team and Player of the Year in 2008, First Team and Player of the Year in 2009, and First Team this season.
- Stetson keeper Andrea Garavaglia has started every game but one since arriving as a freshman in 2007.
- Garavaglia is currently 2nd in the A-Sun with 106 saves on the season.
- Garavaglia is 3rd all-time at Stetson and 7th all-time in the A-Sun with 346 saves, 14 behind April Eilering who is in 2nd place and 6th place respectively with 360.
- Last year Katie Bitetto set a Stetson record for assists in a season with 11.
- Bitetto is currently tied for 2nd in the league with seven assists this season and is 2nd all-time at Stetson behind Gavilsky with 23 career assists.
- Alyssa Welsh is the 7th Hatter all-time to be voted to the A-Sun All-Freshman Team. She joins current teammates Alexis Hermosa and Tessa Gavilsky on the list.
- Welsh is currently 3rd on the team in scoring with 11 points. She was named as a College Soccer 360.com Primetime Performer (10/5) after scoring the game-winning goals over Kennesaw State and Mercer in one weekend.