The Wittenberg field hockey team started the season as a young group with a lot of potential. They may conclude it by living up to that potential, perhaps a bit ahead of schedule.
The Tigers head into the last four games of the regular season riding an impressive four-game win streak, including wins over the three top teams in the North Coast Athletic Conference after the first half of the double round-robin schedule. Even more impressive, all four wins have come by shutout.
The win streak started Oct. 1 at Ohio Wesleyan, a 3-0 win that moved the Tigers back to the .500 mark in the NCAC for the first time this season. Then the Tigers upended visiting Oberlin 2-0 on Oct. 4 as senior Katie Babcock (Phoenix, Md./Dulaney) and junior Carrie Happ (Pittsburgh, Pa./Vincentian) scored goals to back the shutout goalkeeping effort by junior goalkeeper Jen Meyer (Solon, Ohio/Hathaway Brown).
Last week, the Tigers extended the streak to four with wins over preseason conference favorites Denison, 1-0 on Wednesday, and Wooster, 3-0 on Saturday. Meyer posted the shutout and junior Blair Ufer (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer) had the goal against Denison, while freshman Michelle Hanners (Columbus, Ohio/School for Girls) filled in admirably to shut down the Scots in support of goals by junior Sarah Wallace (Reston, Va./South Lakes) and freshman Katy Barrett (Powell, Ohio/Watterson), who had two tallies on the day.
While the Tiger offense has come alive, the win streak has been made possible by the work in net done by Meyer and Hanners. Meyer has posted three straight shutouts, dating back to a 1-0 loss at Wooster on Sept. 20. She missed games against Kenyon, DePauw and Wooster. The goals Meyer allowed against Wooster and Earlham were scored on penalty strokes, meaning that tThe last goal Meyer gave up in continuous game action was in the second half of a 2-0 loss at Oberlin on Sept. 13.
Along with being named NCAC Player of the Week on Oct. 5, Meyer was furthered honored this week by the Web site, www.womensfieldhockey.com, with Honorable Mention National Player of the Week recognition in NCAA Division III.
After a week off, the Tigers are back in action Saturday at Kenyon, a team that challenged Wittenberg in a 6-5 defeat on Sept. 24. After a home game against NCAA Division II Mercyhurst on Sunday, the Tigers host Ohio Wesleyan on Senior Night, Oct. 25, and then put the wraps on the regular season at Earlham on Oct. 28. The Tigers are currently one game behind Wooster in the loss column of the NCAC standings and are tied with Denison and Oberlin with three defeats. The top four teams in the regular season standings reach the NCAC tournament, which is slated to open with semifinal games on Nov. 1.
Wittenberg is the defending NCAC regular season and tournament champion.