By: Jack Ruble
After losing five starters from the 2012 regular season NCAC champion team, Wittenberg women’s soccer team started this season with something to prove. Despite getting the most number one votes in the preseason NCAC poll, the Tigers received a second place ranking. The six remaining starters and the 15 remaining letter winners on this year’s team came out swinging this season. But, as the competition increased so did their troubles.
First-year Head Coach Matt Fannon led the Tigers to their first win of the season against Methodist College in Baltimore, Md. in the Johns Hopkins Invitational on Aug. 31. The game remained scoreless until the fifty-sixth minute when freshman Michelle Bruinswick scored the only goal of the game. In the second game of the Johns Hopkins Invitational, the Tigers were not as lucky as they were in the first game. The Tigers played Averett College on Sept. 1 and lost 1-0. After an early Averett goal, both teams played to a defensive draw, which eventually led to an Averett win.
The rest of the schedule was not so friendly for Wittenberg after their return home from Baltimore. It started with a 1-1 tie against Wilmington College at home, followed by a 2-1 lose at Hanover College. The Tigers then fell to Thomas More College at home 1-0 before bouncing back against Ohio Northern University on Sept. 11 at home. After going down 1-0 early, the Tigers bounced back in the second half thanks to goals by seniors Leslie Oliver and Kayla Murphy and assists by juniors Mary Clare Yerke and Chelsey Marcum. This was the Tigers first win since their opening game against Methodist in August.
Despite the 2-3-1 record, the Lady Tigers have put up a great show defensively thanks to the goalkeeping combo of freshman Kelsey Larko and sophomore Maggie Grieser who have totaled a combined thirty-seven saves. On the offensive side, Wittenberg has a five-way tie in scoring with Murphy, Oliver, Bruinswick, senior Lindsay Jamney, and sophomore Zoe Curry all having one goal so far this season. Marcum leads the team in assists with two while Yerke is the only other player to record an assist.
The Tigers will play Capital University at home this Wednesday, Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. followed by games at Mount St. Joseph College and Heidelberg College. The Tigers then enter conference play against Oberlin College on Saturday, Sept. 28 at noon at home. From that game on, the Tigers will be playing all their games against conference opponents. The Tigers will get a chance to prove themselves against the number one ranked team in the NCAC, Denison, on Oct. 12 at home. Wittenberg’s women’s soccer team plays its home games at Edwards-Maurer Field.