Preview: Field Hockey Advances to NCAA Division III Tournament

Tiger sweeper Carrie Happ made NCAC all-tournament team.

Tiger sweeper Carrie Happ made NCAC all-tournament team.

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio - The Wittenberg field hockey team is back in the NCAA Division III Field Hockey Tournament for a second straight year after capturing the North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament championship in thrilling fashion Saturday with a 1-0 in overtime over Wooster. The Tigers, who tied for the NCAC regular season title and have a 13-6 overall record, open the national competition on Saturday, Nov. 15, with a second-round game against Cortland State on its home campus in Cortland, N.Y.

Wittenberg and Cortland State are two of four teams involved in the NCAA Division III regional bracket at Cortland, the others being Virginia Wesleyan College and Williams College. The Tigers and Red Dragons lock horns at 11 a.m., followed by a 1 p.m. start for Virginia Wesleyan and Williams. The winners of Saturday's second-round game will square off Sunday, and that winner will advance to the national semifinals Nov. 21 at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pa.

In the NCAC Tournament championship game, hosted by Wittenberg at historic Edwards-Maurer Field, tournament Most Valuable Player Katie Babcock (Phoenix, Md./Dulaney), a senior forward, scored the game-winning goal with 3:17 remaining in overtime. The assist went to sophomore forward Julia Wickham (Columbus, Ohio/Grandview), who was joined on the all-tournament team by junior goalkeeper Jen Meyer (Solon, Ohio/Hathaway Brown), freshman midfielderRachel Dunn (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Allegheny), junior defender Carrie Happ (Pittsburgh, Pa./Vincentian) and Babcock.

The Tigers, who have won 10 in a row and have claimed 12 wins in the last 14 games after starting the season 1-4, will be shooting for the first NCAA tournament victory in school history when they take on Cortland State, champion of State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC). The Red Dragons started the season by winning 14 straight games, but are actually entering tournament play on a two-game losing streak. This is Wittenberg's sixth appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament.

The other two teams in the Cortland State bracket, Virginia Wesleyan and Williams, are regulars in the national competition. Virginia Wesleyan captured the regular season and tournament titles in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference and enters the postseason with an 18-1 mark. Williams, which defeated Wittenberg in the second round a year ago, is 13-4 after winning the New England Small College Athletic Conference tournament title over the weekend.