The DePauw women’s soccer team advanced to the NCAC final after beating Kenyon College 2-1 on Wednesday, Nov. 6.
Given the importance of a knock-out game, both teams played at a low pace in the first 15 minutes. Kenyon had the slight edge as they pushed DePauw deep into the defensive half. However, the Ladies could not take over the game. DePauw ran counter attacks from the right, centering around senior Shaili Kumar.
After the 15-minute mark, the Tigers sped up with more players on the offensive end, using crosses and dribbles to break through Kenyon’s defense. With the backline pressing hard, DePauw forced Kenyon to step back and give up their possession.
With pressure growing over time, the hosts found their opening goal. In the 25th minute, right-back junior Mary Goodale curved the ball high into the box. Goalkeeper Jillian Countey could not anticipate the spinning of the ball, and she let it slip through her hands and go straight into the left corner.
Kenyon pushed their frontline forward to find the equalizer, but the Tigers fended off the attacks by accurate interceptions. “Our defense dropped keeping their offense in front of us,” first-year goalkeeper Reanna Stiehler said. “We stayed compact to prevent them from playing their offensive style, which is through balls.” The first 45 minutes ended 1-0 for DePauw.
Kenyon continued their attacking game in the early minutes of the second half, but no clear chances were created. They could only maintain the pressure in the first 10 minutes.
In the 54th minute, DePauw fought back with a quick low cross from the left, but the shot from first-year Zoie Obst could not beat Kenyon’s goalkeeper. In the 73rd minute, after a cross from the right, the follow-up shot from Abbie Morris found Kenyon’s crossbar.
The visitors tied the game in the 78th minute. After poor clearances from DePauw defenders, Samantha Hayes faced off with Stiehler on the edge of the penalty box. She struck the ball low into the center of the goal, taking Kenyon back into the game.
After conceding the goal, substitutes came in for DePauw to find the second goal. In the 88th minute, DePauw broke down Kenyon’s defense with passes and dribbles from the right, and the ball found senior Alex Berkley. She scored her fifth game-winning goal of the season with a strong right-foot shot. The game ended 2-1 for the Tigers.
Berkley was the player of the game with her last-minute goal. Besides Berkley, Kumar had an impressive performance with key passes and dribbles. “I know my role as a forward is to take players on, and the Kenyon defenders definitely gave me many opportunities to capitalize on this,” she said. “I always look to pass to my teammates, and I am lucky they make good runs.”
The Tigers are only one win away from the NCAC championship. “We so appreciated all the support we have had all year from our fans,” coach Cristin Allen shared after the game. “The energy on Wednesday night was electric, and we hope they can replicate that experience for Saturday night. We need our 12th man just one last time this year.”
The Tigers will host College of Wooster for the NCAC championship on Nov. 9 at 7 p.m.