Jill Harmon, Staff Writer

 

The Illinois Wesleyan University women’s soccer team went into the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin tournament final with a record of 18 wins and only one loss.

The Titans were looking for their first ever CCIW regular season and conference tournament championship in the same year. But it was not to be.

“Obviously, losing wasn’t fun,” said junior Alison Seger. “But it really opened our eyes.  We need to stay focused on each game from here on out.”

Doomed by an early goal, the Titans fell to the Thunder 1-0, giving the team their second loss of the season. “We fell behind early and allowed them to dictate the tempo for the game,” said Coach Dave Barrett. “We weren’t sharp technically either, which made it difficult to dig out of the hole.”

Despite the loss, IWU was one of 20 at-large teams selected to the 64-team field for the NCAA Division III soccer tournament. This will be the Titans’ seventh appearance in the tournament in the past eight years. Last year, the team made school history by making it to the Final Four before losing to Lynchburg College 2-1 in the semifinal.

In the first round the Titans will face Westminster College who has a record of 10-6-2 and will be making their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Although these two teams have not faced each other during regular season, they both faced Illinois College at one point.

While the Titans easily won their match 7-0, Westminster lost to Illinois College 2-0.

Senior captain Mary Kate Schmidt said, “In order to be successful, the key will be to play together as a team but also to take one game at a time.”

In order for the IWU women to make it back to the final four again this year, they will potentially have to face both Washington University in St. Louis and Wheaton College once again. Wheaton and Washington University are the only two teams to claim victory over the Titans this season, both winning by a margin of 1-0.

“Having the same success this year is going to come from not only playing great soccer, but having the same heart and determination that drove our success last year,” said Seger.

Illinois Wesleyan will host the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, Nov. 14 and Sunday, Nov. 15. The women of Illinois Wesleyan will face Westminster College on Saturday at 11:00 a.m.

“It will require a true team effort, but we’ll look for special performances now and again to help carry us through,” said Coach Barrett. “Tough to say where those may come from, but that’s what makes the games fun!”