SPRINGFIELD, Ohio - The Wittenberg University field hockey team is on a roll. When a team hasn't lost in more than a month and has stormed back from an 0-2 start to the conference season to claim a share of the regular season title and the No. 1 seed in the upcoming tournament - there is no other description that fits.
The Tigers, who improved to 11-6 overall and 9-3 in the North Coast Athletic Conference with a 4-1 win at Earlham on Tuesday night, claimed a share of their third conference regular season title in the last four years under the direction of Head Coach Marianne Beshara. The current eight-game win streak has extended streaks of 22 consecutive non-losing seasons, 15 straight winning campaigns and 14 seasons in a row with 10 or more wins for the Wittenberg field hockey program.
Wittenberg is one of four teams that qualified for the 2003 NCAC Tournament, and one of two awarded the opportunity to host a semifinal game on Saturday, Nov. 1. Wittenberg, which is unbeaten at home in 2003, will play fourth-seeded Denison, which split a pair of games with the Tigers in the regular season, at 1 p.m. at Edwards-Maurer Field. The winner moves on to the NCAC Tournament championship game on Nov. 8. The winner of that game, which will be hosted by the highest-seeded team remaining in the competition, is awarded the automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Tournament, which starts Nov. 13.
The Tigers are attempting to make a return trip to the NCAA Division III Tournament after finishing with a 17-4 record in 2002 and winning the NCAC regular season and tournament titles. That season came to an end in the second round of the national tourney. Wittenberg was ranked in the top-20 in the National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll for the entire season, and after the season four players were named All-America, a school record.
In 2003, Wittenberg has been led by one of those All-Americans, junior goalkeeper Jen Meyer (Solon, Ohio/Hathaway Brown). Meyer got off to a slow start with a completely new defensive unit protecting her, but she has been red-hot of late. She is credited with four of the team's five shutouts during the current eight-game winning streak, and she ranks third in the NCAC with a saves percentage of .832. Offensively, the Tigers have gotten strong play freshman Katy Barrett (Powell, Ohio/Watterson) with 10 goals and two assists for 22 total points, junior Blair Ufer (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer) with six goals, seven assists and 19 total points and senior Katie Babcock (Phoenix, Md./Dulaney) with six goals, three assists and 15 total points.