Round Up: Tigers Gaining Steam Heading To NCAC Tournament

Julia Wickham
Julia Wickham

The Wittenberg field hockey team is on a roll. No other description applies 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.

The Tigers claimed their share of the NCAC title with a 4-1 win at Earlham on Tuesday night, 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 program.

Against Earlham, the Tigers jumped out to a 2-0 lead by halftime and cruised past the host Quakers. Sophomore Julia Wickham (Columbus, Ohio/Grandview) scored two goals and junior Blair Ufer (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer) added two assists to lead the offensive barrage.

Wittenberg will host a tourney 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.

In 2003, Wittenberg has been led by junior goalkeeper Jen Meyer (Solon, Ohio/Hathaway Brown), who got off to a slow start with a completely new defensive unit protecting her, but 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 three assists for 23 total points, Ufer with six goals, eight assists and 20 total points and senior Katie Babcock (Phoenix, Md./Dulaney) with six goals, three assists and 15 total points.