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November 26, 2012

Women's Semifinal 1 Preview

Other Previews: Women's Semifinal 2 Men's  Semifinal 1 | Semifinal 2

By James Matson

NCAA Division III Women's Soccer - National Semifinal 1

Friday, November 30 — 5:00 pm CT

No. 12  Wheaton (Ill.) (21-3-2)

vs.

No. 8  Emory (14-1-7)

How they reached the Final Four

Wheaton (Ill.): CCIW Automatic Berth (AQ) | 1st Rnd: W4-0 Webster (H) | 2nd Rnd: W7-0 UW-Whitewater (H) | Sweet 16: W2-1(ot) Hardin-Simmons (N) | Elite 8: W3-1 Washington U. (A)

Emory: Pool C at-large berth | 1st Rnd: W2-0 DePauw (N) | 2nd Rnd: W2-0 Centre (A) | Sweet 16: W2-1 Loras (N) | Elite 8: T0-0(2ot)(11-10 pks) Carnegie Mellon (A)

2012 Statistical Overview

Wheaton (Ill.): 21-3-2 (.846) | 3.08 GSA, 0.73 GAA (+2.35) | Avg. OWP: .648 | Last Ten: 9-1-0

Emory: 14-1-7 (.795) | 2.16 GSA, 0.42 GAA (+1.74) | Avg. OWP: .633 | Last Ten: 5-1-4

Wheaton (Ill.) Season Review

Wheaton started the season with six empty positions on the roster due to graduations, but with a number of proven underclassmen to choose from, and some hopeful newcomers, the Thunder had a nucleus from which to build. Expectations for continuing the momentum in 2012 loomed large, as the 2011 seniors had enjoyed a run of success both in the regular season and the post-season, having made it to two National Championship matches in their four years. This year’s squad, with a heaver dose of freshman than in the past, answered the call and have stepped up, cruising into the Sweet Sixteen. Things became more difficult in St. Louis in the sectional round, yet the Thunder pulled out two victories over ranked programs, and now have the chance to earn their fourth title in eight years.

Wheaton started the year strong, winning their first six matches, including a surprising 4-0 shutout of Wash. U. But after that victory, consistency faded with a 1-2 loss at UW-Eau Claire, a 5-1 win at Loras, and a draw with Elmhurst. But as the season ended and CCIW Tournament got underway, Wheaton found their consistency, clinching the AQ and moving into the NCAA post-season. The 2012 Thunder squad mirrors last season's squad in most statistics, and like last year, they struggled through a bit of a mid-season slump. But the strong challenges from CCIW foes Augustana and Illinois Wesleyan as well as regional rivals Washington U. and Chicago makes for a team that is storm-tested, and perhaps that fact as much as any other accounts for Wheaton's long-term success in the post-season.

The Thunder depends on the leadership of senior D3soccer.com 2011 All-Americans Kari Shannon (3g, 6a) and Laura Karsten (3g), playing key roles on defense and in the midfield as needed. That foundation allows junior Leah DeMoss (21g, 10a), freshman Ally Witt (20g, 6a), and sophomore Sarah Guidera (13g, 6a) to provide the offensive punch. Yet the scoring responsibility is shared by the young team as 12 of the 16 goals scored thus far in the tournament were put in by freshman and sophomores.

In the first and second round of the tournament, with Wheaton hosting, Wheaton blanked Webster 4-0 in the first round, and then surprisingly cruised past a struggling UW-Whitewater team 7-0 in the second round. At the sectionals in St. Louis, Wheaton went to the wire to edge No. 2 Hardin-Simmons 2-1 in overtime, then defeated No. 4 Washington U. 3-1.

Emory Season Review

The 2012 season has come together as Coach Patberg had hoped: after an unbeaten 2011 regular season ( a program record), a second straight trip to the Sweet Sixteen, and with 23 players returning, Patberg set high expectations for 2012. To a great extent, those expectations have been met with a one-loss season and not only a return to the third round, but a ticket to the Final Four.

Regardless of any outside expectations, defeating the defending national champion Messiah Falcons in the first match of the season established Emory as a force. The UAA and the nation took notice of the 2-1 overtime victory, and the Top 25 voters rewarded the effort with a No. 1 ranking for a good part of the season. Emory continued the strong play as the season unfolded, taking on strong opponents and coming out the victor, holding the opposing side to limited shots and goals. Including post-season play, the Eagles have held their opponents to a .45 GAA, an impressive number considering their overall OWP of .633. Emory has 13 shutouts on the season, only twice allowing more than one goal, a 2-2 draw against Johns Hopkins and again the same against UAA foe Washington University. This defensive minded approach is a continuation of last season’s team, allowing only five goals against for the 2011 season, including a 1-0 loss to William Smith in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. This season, Emory finished tied for third in the UAA with Chicago, while Wash U took first place. Earlier in the season, Emory defeated Chicago 2-1, while the Eagles sole loss was to New York University, 0-1 in overtime.

For 2012, senior keepers Kaele Leonard and Erica Stein, senior defender Ashley Kaiser, and junior UAA MVP and 2011 D3soccer.com All-America defender Lauren Gorodetsky would return to anchor the defense, as well as All-Region senior forward Merrill Bachouros (1g, 2a) and All-UAA senior midfielder Lee Bachouros (2g, 7a). The Eagles senior class has led a squad that is 47-4-13 over the past three seasons, a strong result, but a result that included a larger than normal number of draws. In fact, the only item of note statistically is indeed the seven matches that Emory has played to a draw, including the Elite 8 match against Carnegie Mellon. That match went scoreless and then into a 14 round marathon shootout. In the final match of the regular season, the Eagles and the Tartans had identical results, proving that perhaps these teams are as identical as two sides can be, but also revealing the lack of ability to close out those close matches with a win.

Nonetheless, the Eagles have achieved because they have kept opponents off the board by limiting their shots. And the combination of Leonard and Stein in goal have contributed by stopping the few shots that do get through. Against Messiah, the Eagles limited the Falcons to nine shots (with two saves), well short of the Falcons average of 21 shots per match. In their draw with Emory, Wash U was also held to eight shots, also well short of their 21 shots per match average. At the other end of the pitch, goal production is spread among five players with five goals or more; juniors Veronoca Romero (8g, 4a) and Kelly Costopoulos (8g, 3a), sophomore Emily Feldman (7g, 4a), sophomore Charlotte Butker (5g, 10a), and senior Katy Kruse (5g, 3a).

With their NCAA Pool C at-large berth in hand, the Eagles started the tournament at Centre College with a 2-0 shutout of DePauw, in a match that was far more one-sided than the score indicates as the Eagles outshot the Tigers 29-4. The Eagles then won the pod with another 2-0 shutout over No. 9 Centre. Both goals in the tightly fought match were scored off corner kicks, yet most of the key stats in the match were even. In the sectional round at Carnegie Mellon, Emory defeated No. 20 Loras 2-1, and then Emory reached their first Final Four in program history with a shootout win over the host Tartans.

Head Coaches

Wheaton (Ill.)

Pete Felske, 25th year (1988-2012)

Overall: 407-98-28 (.790)

NCAA's (16 of 25 yrs.): 45-9-5 (.805), Champion - '04,'06,'07, Runner-Up - '08,'11, Final Four - '01, Elite 8 - '99,'02

Coach Felske has done it all in DIII soccer: he played on the 1984 Wheaton national championship team, he has won three titles as coach, and perhaps as importantly, he has lost in two title matches. Felske is third on the list of most coaching victories by a coach for women’s DIII soccer. With 407, he is just nine wins behind Coach Joe Russo at TCNJ. With the experience of seven Final Fours and three national championships, Coach Felske has all the experience needed for another successful run at the title.

Emory

Sue Patberg, 8th year (2005-2012)

Overall: 109-23-25 (.774)

NCAA's (6 of 8 yrs.): 10-5-2 (.647), Elite 8 - 2010

Coach Patberg is in her eighth year at Emory, and has led the Eagles to six playoff appearances, including an Elite 8 match in 2010. The team is on a streak of three straight years of success in the UAA, including appearing in three straight NCAA tournaments. The 2012 squad has set a new standard for Emory women’s soccer, playing in the Final Four for the first time in program history. While no direct Final Four experience at Emory, her own deep NCAA post-season experience as a player at UMass, and as a coach at Minnesota and Georgia, gives Patberg the know-how to guide her team against Wheaton and in the title match in San Antonio (perhaps little known is that Coach Patberg is the 29th winningest coach in NCAA DI history, which includes her time at Emory).

Seniors' 4-year Record (through Nov. 18)

Wheaton (Ill.): 81-11-8 (.850) overall | NCAA's ('09,'10,'11','12): 13-1-2, Sweet 16 - '09,'10, Final Four - '11,'12

Emory: 55-9-18 (.780) overall | NCAA's ('10,'11,'12): 7-2-2, Sweet 16 - '11, Elite 8 - '10, Final Four - '12

Experience

Wheaton (Ill.): For Wheaton, the tournament isn’t as much about experience as it is about the chance to return to the Final Four and win another semifinal match and title. The Thunder has appeared in 16 straight NCAA tournaments, and were national runners up in 2011. In 2010, the Thunder were bumped by Emory in the third round via shootout, and in 2009, Washington U. cut the Thunder from the tourney in the third round via a shootout. While a young team with five freshmen who see regular action, Wheaton has four seniors who are four year starters, including Laura Karsten who due to a season-ending injury her sophomore year, played in the both the ’08 and ’11 national title matches.

Emory: Emory has qualified for the NCAA tournament in each of the last three years, earning the Elite 8 in 2010 with a shootout win over Wheaton (Ill.). In the fourth round match, the Eagles fell 1-2 to eventual national champion Hardin-Simmons. In 2011, they made the third round after two straight shutouts, but fell to Williams 0-1 in the second overtime of a very tight match. Emory has a broad and deep, experienced line-up of sophomores, juniors, and seniors, and most of them have seen post-season NCAA tournament play in 2010 and 2011. The only thing missing in their soccer resume is Final Four experience.

 

Other Previews: Women's Semifinal 2 Men's  Semifinal 1 | Semifinal 2

Comments or feedback for the author?  Email James Matson.

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