SPRINGFIELD, Ohio - Seventy minutes wasn't enough time for the top-seeded Wittenberg University Tigers and second-seeded College of Wooster Fighting Scots to decide things in the North Coast Athletic Conference Field Hockey Tournament championship game. It wasn't even enough time for someone to score a goal. So they played nearly 12 more minutes before the Tigers ended the overtime thriller with a goal by senior Katie Babcock (Phoenix, Md./Dulaney) with 3:17 showing on the Edwards-Maurer Field clock.
The win advanced the Tigers to a second straight NCAA Division III Tournament and the sixth in school history. It was the second straight year that Wittenberg advanced to the national competition after winning the NCAC Tournament. The runner-up in that inaugural conference tournament was also Wooster.
In the first half, Wittenberg was the team with more chances, outshooting the visiting Scots 12-3, but failing to penetrate the Wooster goal as keeper Ann Leigh turned away six Tiger shots. In the second half, Wooster was the team with the offensive momentum, outshooting Wittenberg 12-7. The Tigers needed several tremendous saves by junior goalkeeper Jen Meyer (Solon, Ohio/Hathaway Brown) to keep the game scoreless. The best save of the game came with 3:22 remaining - Wooster executed a solid penalty corner play and Meyer went down into the splits to stop one shot, then bounced back up to kick away another attempt.
In the overtime, action was much more wide open with the 7-on-7 format, and Wittenberg simply outran Wooster on a pair of two-on-one breakouts. The Tigers missed on their first opportunity as Babcock and sophomore Julia Wickham (Columbus, Ohio/Grandview) combined to get behind Leigh before a Scot defensive player stopped the ball with her foot. However, the ensuing penalty stroke went inches wide, keeping things scoreless. On the second transition opportunity, Wittenberg didn't miss. Wickham carried the ball forward, pushed the ball past Leigh on a second attempt and Babcock hammered it home from point-blank range.
Wittenberg placed four players on the all-tournament team - Meyer, Wickham, freshman Rachel Dunn (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Allegheny) and junior Carrie Happ (Pittsburgh, Pa./Vincentian). Tournament MVP honors were awarded to Babcock, who also had a key goal in the semifinal win over Denison. Wooster placed three players on the all-tournament team - Julie Tryder, Leigh and Katie Baron. Denison and Oberlin, the two semifinalists who lost games last weekend, placed two players each on the all-tournament team - Karen Lancaster and Courtney Cordeiro of the Big Red and Jaime Johnson and Sarah Heaton of the Yeowomen.
The Tigers improved to 13-6 overall after finishing in a three-way tie with Wooster and Oberlin for the regular season championship. Wittenberg has won 10 straight games and has captured 12 of the last 14 games after a 1-4 start to the 2003 season.