Automatic bid to Div. III playoffs on the line in Denison rematch


The DePauw field hockey squad has a score to settle.

After a semi-final win against the College of Wooster, the Tigers are headed to the North Coast Athletic Conference field hockey championship on Saturday to face Denison University for the title.  

Denison beat the Tigers last Saturday 1-0, the only team in the NCAC to do so.

The Tigers (16-2) beat Wooster 4-1 Wednesday at Blackstock West Field, finishing the Fighting Scot's season with an overall record of 9-10. On the other side of the NCAC tournament bracket, Denison defeated Wittenberg University 2-0 to advance to the final.

"We did a really good job of moving the ball around," said head coach Gina Preston. "I think we had a little bit of a lapse of that at the end of our last game. We put people in the right spots and we took advantage of the opportunities we had."

Freshman forward Paige Henry scored the first goal, followed by senior Courtney Wood, both in the first half. In the second half, junior Margaret Ellis scored her 24th goal of the season off of a corner. Henry scored again, rounding out the game 4-0.

Preston said her offense did a great job in keeping the Fighting Scots goalkeeper Liz Plumley off balance to score goals. The Tigers outshot the Fighting Scots 15-1 and held the edge in penalty corners 14-3.  

"We were able to move the goalie and get deflection shots and get her off her angle a little bit," Preston said. "If we're able to do that on Saturday, then I think we'll be able to take advantage of those opportunities that we get in the circle."

The last time the Tigers faced Denison, they gave up the only score of the contest in the last two minutes of play.

"We played a really good game," Preston said about the Denison match. "We had shots, we had corners, we had opportunities. They just weren't the best opportunities, and we weren't able to maintain possession at the end of the game."

The girls are ready to seek revenge and are excited to face the Denison Big Red yet again.

In that last game, DePauw outshot Denison 13-10 and won more penalty corners, 9-6. The automatic bid to the NCAA Div. III tournament that comes with the conference title will be decided by the Tiger forwards, led by Henry and Ellis, who must produce goals off of those chances.  

"Denison has a lot of skills," Henry said. "We need to make sure we're patient on defense and just really use each other and have confidence in each other."

In the title game, Henry believes the team needs to execute even more offensively.  

"We had some chances [against Denison] but they protect their circle so it's hard for us to get a lot of chances," Henry said.

While Denison is the only NCAC team to have beaten DePauw this season, Preston believes the most important thing to focus on what they've been practicing all year.

"It's just the easy, simple things," Preston said. "Our motto all year has been working together, moving the ball together, transitioning together on offense, transitioning together on defense."

The Tigers will play at Denison in the championship game on Saturday at noon. The game will be broadcasted live by 91.5 WGRE.