Despite their tough 1-0 loss to Lake Forest College this past weekend that cost them the conference title, Lawrence University women’s soccer is stronger than ever and gearing up for the playoffs.Lake Forest may have clinched the conference title with a win at Ripon College on Oct. 21, their first since 1989 and only their second in school history, but the Vikings finished with an identical and very impressive 8-1-0 record in conference play. Their stellar record gives them the second seed in the MWC Playoffs starting on Friday morning at Lake Forest.
The Vikings had a very strong defensive first half. The Foresters outshot the Vikings 9-3 but were unable to score. The tie was finally broken with 14:51 left to play when Alviva Landin scored her tenth goal of the year.
The team did come back to win a non-conference game on Sunday. They won 3-2 at Aurora University in overtime. The Vikings were lead by 2000 1st Team All-Conference Meagan Tiemann, who scored two goals, including the game winner in overtime.
At the MWC Playoffs, the Vikings will be matched up against #3 seed Grinnell College, with #4 seed St. Norbert taking on Lake Forest. The tournament fields the same four teams from last year, when the Vikings came out on top despite being seeded #4. The Vikings beat the Pioneers (in the conference) back on 22 Sept. Kiana Neal and Elli Dalrymple both scored, and Katie Wilkin had 11 saves en route to a 2-0 victory.
The key to victory throughout this year’s conference tournament has been the defense. The women’s soccer team has only allowed an average of 0.25 goals through their first eight games in the conference. They will also rely on the experience of the seniors, behind all-conference players in Tiemann and Sandi Blick, defensive specialists Neal, Lauren Preisen, Tiffany Campbell, and the high energy playing styles of Gina Casati and Julana Veliz. This core of seniors has been instrumental in the success of the past three seasons.
The team is very optimistic about its chances in the upcoming MWC Playoffs. “We are able to beat any team,” says Blick. Defenseman Molly Johannessen says of this year’s attitude compared to last year’s: “We are more confident.” This comes as a surprise since last year’s women’s soccer team won the tournament.
Their focus now is on Grinnell and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. As of press time, the hope is that these Lawrence University women will be primed and ready as the whistle blows at Lake Forest on Friday morning.