Spartans Battle to the Wire in NCAA Women's Soccer Regional
Nov 17, 2014
WHEATON, Ill. - Megan Siepler's quick strike at 6:45 in the opening period mark couldn't hold off a three-goal Illinois Wesleyan University surge in the first half as the Iowa Conference Champions Spartans women's soccer season ended early after a 4-2 first round loss of the NCAA Championships.
Illinois Wesleyan (15-6-1) put nine of their 14 shots on goal. None were bigger than their instant momentum-killng score from the Titan's second-leading goal scorer, Skyler Tomko, 55 seconds after Siepler's goal. What was an early lead for the Spartans (16-5-1), evaporated into the frigid air as the game was knotted at 1-1, in less than eight minutes into the game.
UD found creases in the Titan defense in the form of a Liz Frazier corner kicks, followed by a spot-on pass from Frazier to Siepler in the box. Both attempts were diverted, but chances were present against a defensive-minded Illinois Wesleyan squad set on slowing down the fiery Spartans offensive.
The Titans would break out their offense after seizing control with a pair of goals at the 20 and 42-minute marks to extend the match to 3-1 halftime lead for the Titans.
The rally was on in the second half as Lauren Waddell tried to will her team back with a series of arcing free kicks into the box. As one found it's mark as Kelsey Graefen headed in her sixth goal of the year in the 80th minute. Graefen's goal cut the lead to 4-2, but gave the Spartans life. An exciting three minutes later a potential third Spartans goal was negated after a late UD foul was whistled. Being down by a goal with just under seven minutes to play most definitely would have given the contest a thrilling end for the chilled fans in attendance.
In the Spartans first-ever meeting with Illinois Wesleyan, the Titans held the edge 14-10 in total shots. UD's scoring opportunities were kept in check after the Spartans were held to one second-half corner kick. The Titans narrowly managed to win the battle in corner kicks, 5-3, after launching four in the second half.
The Titans snapped UD's six-game winning streak which included the IIAC Championship game and the loss prevented the Spartans from setting the school record in wins.
In his 14th season, Jason Berna's team in 2014 may go down as one of the best ever for the University of Dubuque as they tied the school record with 16 wins, claimed both the IIAC regular season, and IIAC tournament titles for the first time in school history (after being picked to finish third in the league from IIAC coaches pre-season poll). Ten of the 17 players making an appearance in the NCAA contest, including four starters, return next year to continue the tournament journey which ended too soon for the tenacious Spartans in 2014.