Kautz headed to NCAA soccer’s big dance | SierraSun.com

Kautz headed to NCAA soccer’s big dance

Sylas Wright
Sierra Sun
Casey B. Gibson/Provided to the SunTruckee High grad Jesse Kautz, a freshman on the Colorado College soccer team, plays in a match against Ohio State University on Sept. 15. Colorado College earned an invitation to the NCAA Tournament.
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Turns out 2006 was the perfect year for Truckee High grad Jesse Kautz to join the Colorado College soccer team.

For the first time since 1991, the Tigers of Colorado Springs received an at-large bid to compete in the NCAA Division I women’s soccer tournament, which begins today at 16 regional sites across the country.

“This has been my dream since I was 6, to play Division I soccer, and now here I am as a freshman about to play in the NCAA tournament,” said Kautz, a 2006 Truckee High grad and freshman defender for the Tigers. “I am so excited. I feel so honored and privileged. I want to make the most of the opportunity.”

A member of Conference USA, the Colorado College women’s soccer team earned an invitation to the NCAA tournament after finishing runner-up to University of Alabama, 3-2, in the championship game of the C-USA postseason tournament this past weekend. The Tigers (15-5-1 overall, 6-3-0 conference) defeated University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) 2-1 in the quarterfinal before eliminating Southern Methodist University (SMU) 4-1 in the semifinal.

Had Colorado College won its conference tourney, it would have received an automatic bid.

“We put ourselves in a good position by beating SMU and UTEP,” Kautz said. “I think that’s what got us invited.”

The Tigers square off against Big 12 Conference member and in-state rival University of Colorado ” which at 12-5-3 overall and 5-4-1 in its conference is ranked No. 16 in the latest Soccer America poll ” in the opening-round match of the single-elimination tourney today at 1 p.m. The winning team then will face the winner between the University of Denver and the University of Kentucky, which play today at 11 a.m.

Kautz ” who celebrates her 19th birthday today ” is sure to be in on the action, as the scholarship freshman has been in the starting lineup since day one.

“She has started and played every minute, and has done very well,” said Colorado College head coach Geoff Bennett. “She’s one who has grown tremendously as far the learning the curve at this level. We’ve been very happy with her.”

Bennett, who is in his third year as head coach at Colorado College, said what sets this team apart from the others he has coached is its athleticism and ability to put the ball in the net, as well as its youth.

“We’re very young and more athletic,” he said, adding that he has two freshmen and two sophomores starting on defense, including Kautz at left outside defender. “We have a lot of dynamic going forward, a lot of players who are capable of scoring.”

Kautz thinks her team’s strength is its camaraderie.

“I’d definitely say that chemistry is huge,” she said. “We all enjoy each other’s company and everyone is so supportive of each other. And we work so hard. Every practice is intense.

“No matter how we do, I’m so proud of the team. We’ve worked so hard for this.”