BY ANUSHA SHUKLA
The Denison Women’s Soccer Team won back-to-back away games at Hiram and Ohio Wesleyan to remain undefeated in the North Coast Athletic Conference to clinch Denison’s 10th regular season NCAC championship, their first since 2013.
On Wednesday, the 24 of October, the Big Red extended their winning streak to five games, defeating Hiram College 5 – 0. They first found the back of the net in the 15th minute of play as Maggie Armstrong ’19 scored off an assist from Liz Gilbert ’22. The Big Red failed to add to their 1-0 lead for the remainder of the first half despite outshooting Hiram 15-0.
Denison made quick work of the Terriers in the second half, scoring two more goals in the first five minutes. Leading the Big Red in shots, Armstrong continued her string of strong performances, tallying assists on the final two goals. The first was scored by Logan Agin ’20. Ariel Lovey ’22 added another in the final minutes of the game to cement their win against Hiram.
The 5-0 win brought the Big Red within just one point of Wooster in NCAC play, with the Fighting Scots already having completed conference play.
The Big Red entered the final match of the regular season at Ohio Wesleyan with a record of 11-2-2 (5-0-2 NCAC). A tie or a victory would clinch a conference-best 10th NCAC regular season title.
Denison applied the pressure from the start as Sam Haseltine ’19 had four shots with two on goal and the team finally broke through in the 18th minute. Katie Livingston ’22 scored her first collegiate goal off of a Haseltine ‘19 corner.
The Big Red built off the energy from their early goal and brought their 1-0 lead into halftime after outshooting the Bishops 16-4 in the first 45 minutes.
Denison carried the momentum into the second half of the game with nine shots to OWU’s one until the Battling Bishops finally answered in the 71st minute with a game-tying goal from Ashley Smiley.
But, just five minutes later, Armstrong gave the lead back to Denison as she shot a loose ball in the box into the back of the net off of a rebound from a Kelly O’Neill’s ’21 shot.
The Big Red freshman goalkeeper, Patil Tcholakian ‘22 blocked the final two shots of the game by Ohio Wesleyan to hold onto the win by a final score of 2-1.
The story of the day for the Big Red, as it has been seemingly all year, was their high-powered offensive attack. They fired 30 shots to the Bishops’ eight. They also outpaced Ohio Wesleyan 13-3 on corner kicks.
The victory for the Big Red women mark an end to a stellar regular season. After winning their final six games of the season, they finished with a mark of 12-2-2 (6-0-2 NCAC) to earn the #1 seed in the NCAC Tournament.
Agin ‘20 comments on the mindset that she and her teammates will bring into the conference tournament this coming week.
“We know that we have earned the number one seed in the tournament but we don’t want to take that for granted. Every team that we play always comes at us with their best and so we have to come into each game with confidence, but not cockiness,” Agin ‘20 says.
Denison will welcome the #4-seeded Wittenberg Tigers to Barclay-Thomsen Field on Wednesday, October 31 where they will host the semifinals for the NCAC Tournament.
Believe it or not, winning the conference tournament is not what the Denison Women’s Soccer Team if focused on at this time. Agin ‘20 reiterates this when asked about looking ahead to what this team can accomplish.
“Winning the tournament is not what our focus is right now. First we need to beat Wittenberg. If we stick to our game plan and stay dialed in throughout the week we should be successful,” Agin ‘20 says.