Women’s Soccer Dominates in NCAC Final but Falls to Wittenberg

Jonathan Logan

Editor-in-Chief

 

The women’s soccer team hosted the NCAC finals at Carl Dale Field on Saturday, Nov. 5. Their opposition, the Wittenberg University Tigers, entered the match fresh off an upset win over first-seeded Denison University and with a record of 9-8-1. Wooster, 10-7-2 entering the contest, had just beaten the second-seeded Kenyon Lords in a thrilling penalty shootout that saw the Scots score 10 flawless spot kicks to Kenyon’s nine.

When the squads matched up in the regular season, the Scots had beaten the Tigers 4-2. However, in this championship fixture, thanks to a breakout performance by Wittenberg first-year, Brooke Mullis, the Tigers won their sixth NCAC conference title by a score of 3-2. Mullis entered the contest with zero points on the season but was involved in every Wittenberg goal on Saturday.

Attendance at the championship was through the roof, with over 400 fans and students coming out for the match. Senior captain Lillian Miller described the Scots’ pre-match mentality as a team knowing that “[they] had a tough job ahead of [them] and [they] didn’t want to go in overconfident.” Wooster started in their usual 4-3-3 formation, while Wittenberg deployed a 4-2-3-1.

The Scots dominated possession for the entire game and came out swinging with a quick goal scored in the third minute by Miura Wiley ’22. A loose ball near the top of the Wittenberg box was picked up by Wooster striker Teddi Farson ’23, who then slotted Wiley in down the left-hand side of the box. Wiley thumped her finish into the roof of the net to give Wooster a 1-0 lead.

Wittenberg could not break Wooster’s midfield block, made up of Kylie Davis ’22, Maya McDonald ’22 and Naomi Mann ’24. They bossed the midfield while the attacking three of Wiley, Farson and Hallie Krzys ’25 pressed the Tigers’ back line at just the right moments, forcing bad passes that their midfielders could then pick up. At one point, the Wooster press was so suffocating that a Wittenberg defender cleared a ball straight into one of their own fans. A resounding thud echoed across Carl Dale as the fan took it square in the rib cage.

After a major lull in the game between the 15th and 35th minutes, Wittenberg found a shock equalizer in the 37th minute as they forced a well-placed corner over the line to make it 1-1. Following the goal, Wooster rotated in some fresh legs in the midfield to see the half out. After flying down the left sideline to keep a heavy pass in play, Katie Schumacher ’23 provided one more good look at goal before halftime with a deft lateral pass into a gaping hole in the center of Wittenberg’s defense, but a miscommunication saw the move fizzle out.

Wooster thoroughly outplayed Wittenberg in the first half by dominating possession and taking the majority of the shots. Wittenberg struggled to connect a single pass in or around the Wooster danger area. In open play, there were not many better defenses in the NCAC this season than Wooster’s back four of Kelsey Stone ’22, Alexa Bencic ’22, Helena Janczak ’23 and Lily Glaza ’25. Bencic said that “part of what made our back line strong was our chemistry. We all communicated very well and gave constructive criticism when needed, but also tons of encouragement and positivity.” Anchoring the defense was goalkeeper Amanda Flory ’25, who, along with Bencic and Stone, was named an NCAC All-Tournament player. 

The Scots came out with a pep in their step in the second half. They pressured hard from left to right across Wittenberg’s back line just as they did early in the first half. Once again, the press and a constant spray of wide passes from McDonald and Mann saw the Scots get ahead in the 49th minute. Krzys, who made an excellent effort to get on the end of a pass down the right sideline, whipped in a peach of a cross to Farson who timed her run to perfection and slapped a header in for the Scots’ second goal. The pandemonic outpouring of emotion following the goal was the type of stuff the beautiful game is all about. Afterwards, Farson reflected on two years of injury and the pandemic, saying that her “goal on Saturday was special to [her] because [she] had been waiting two years for that moment.”

Wittenberg had two dangerous set pieces following the goal, but Flory collected well, coming off of her line. Unfortunately, the Tigers capitalized on a communication breakdown during a set piece. The Tigers held two players over a dead ball and pulled their only wide player into the box as a distraction. Just as the referee blew the whistle, Wittenberg’s Hannah Heald peeled off down the left side of Wooster’s wall and received the free-kick from Mullis inside the Scots’ penalty area. Heald stutter-stepped and placed a shot far post, top corner to tie the match 2-2.

Following the Wittenberg equalizer, the referee began to lose control of the game as Wittenberg racked up 11 fouls and Wooster answered with nine of their own. The neutral spectator would agree that yellow cards should have been brandished on a series of nasty challenges by the Tigers in the 55th to 60th minutes. Krzys got close to scoring for the Scots in the 67th minute after cutting inside on her right foot and letting fly from 20 yards out.

In the 79th minute, a one-on-one midfield battle led to Wittenberg being rewarded a free-kick 30 yards out. Mullis stepped up and curled the free-kick directly into the top-corner to give the Tigers their go-ahead goal. With only ten minutes left in the game, the visitors resorted to time-wasting and stuffing the ball into the corner via their wingers.

However, once Wooster regained possession with about five minutes left, the match became frenzied. Wittenberg could not touch the ball. The Scots proceeded to take multiple shots and even drew the games’ first yellow card after Farson let a long pass roll across her and committed Wittenberg’s right back. For the last two minutes, the Scots floored the Tigers with multiple crosses into the box and dribbles in the danger area. Emotions reached fever pitch levels when Krzys picked up a throw-in in the box with five seconds left and received a full-blown rec league hack to the shins which was undoubtedly a foul that would have given the Scots a spot kick. However, the referee saw no foul play and blew the final whistle, ending the Fighting Scots’ onslaught.

The women’s soccer team continues to impress year after year as they consistently make deep runs into the NCAC tournament. Bencic, a captain, said that “these have been the best four years of soccer in [her] entire life.” She added “roll Scots, PTK and play for the fashion leggings.” Farson, a rising senior on the squad, is looking forward to next year; “our team has extreme talent that I believe is going to once again take us far. The team dynamic will be strong and redemption is in our future.”

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