The Wittenberg field hockey team jumped on top early and held off a late Denison charge to defeat the visiting Big Red 4-3 in the NCAC Tournament semifinals Saturday at Edwards-Maurer Field.
The Tigers are the defending NCAC regular season and tournament champions and the top seed in this year's competition after finishing in a three-way tie for first place in the regular season standings. They took a 3-1 lead into the halftime break and extended that advantage to 4-1 midway through the second half before Denison charged back. Junior Sarah Wallace (Reston, Va./South Lakes) scored off an assist from junior Carrie Happ (Pittsburgh, Pa./Vincentian) on a penalty corner play to open the scoring for Wittenberg and knot the game at 1-1 about a minute after the Big Red had scored first. Junior Blair Ufer (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer) scored the go-ahead goal off a penalty corner thanks to a solid feed from freshman Rachel Dunn (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Allegheny). And senior Katie Babcock (Phoenix, Md./Dulaney) recorded the third tally off an assist from Ufer late in the first half.
The biggest play of the game may have taken place inside of the final two minutes as Tiger junior Melanie Boss (Dayton, Ohio/Kettering Fairmont) cleared away the potential game-tying goal as the ball came across the goal mouth.
The Tigers now host the NCAC Tournament Championship game Saturday at Edwards-Maurer Field, where the team is a perfect 9-0 this year. Wittenberg, Wooster and Oberlin tied for first place in the NCAC regular season standings, and the Tigers and Scots, which split a pair of games this season, are slated to go for the title at 1 p.m. It is a rematch of the 2002 title game that was won by Wittenberg 6-2.