November 30, 2011

Women's Semifinal 2 Preview

More news about: Ithaca women's team | Wheaton (Ill.) women's team
Other Semifinal Previews:  Semifinal 1 Men's:  Semifinal 1 | Semifinal 2

NCAA Division III Women's Soccer - National Semifinal

Friday, December 2 — 1:30 pm CT

Wheaton (Ill.) (21-1-1)

vs.

Ithaca (15-3-3)

How they reached the Final Four

Wheaton (Ill.): College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin champion - AQ | 1st Rnd: W5-0 Penn State-Behrend | 2nd Rnd: W3-0 Capital | Sweet 16: W4-1 Wisconsin-Whitewater | Quarterfinal: W4-2 Washington University

Ithaca: Pool C at-large berth | 1st Rnd: W2-1 (OT) Illinois Wesleyan | 2nd Rnd: W1-0 Ohio Northern | Sweet 16: W1-0 (2OT) Trinity (Texas) | Quarterfinal: W2-0 Cortland State

2011 Statistical Overview

Wheaton (Ill.): 21-1-2 (.920) | 3.00 GSA, 0.68 GAA (+2.32) | Avg. OWP: .634 | Last Ten: 8-1-1

Ithaca: 15-3-3 (.786) | 2.52 GSA, 0.95 GAA (+1.57) | Avg. OWP: .592 | Last Ten: 7-2-1

Wheaton (Ill.) Season Review

Senior Jaime Orewiler leads Wheaton in scoring Photo by Thunderphotos.com

The expectations were justifiably high for the Thunder this season. They were returning a solid core of the 2010 third round team, and the same seniors who made the final four as freshman. With a 5-0 stomping at the hands of Messiah, those freshman got a taste for how tough the final four can be. 

Wheaton got off to a strong start to the season going 10-0 and outscoring their opponents 29-4. In a road match at Kalamazoo, the Thunder ended the undefeated streak with a scoreless draw. Even with a 31-2 shot advantage, the stronger side could not break through. A good lesson for Wheaton that even with four wins over ranked teams early, one can never look past an opponent. Another blemish was added as the Thunder fell to a strong Elmhurst squad in two overtimes, but the Thunder bounced back and went on to defeat ranked foe Illinois Wesleyan. In the conference finals, it took PKs to capture the AQ, again against IWU, who ended up with a Poll C berth.

An uneventful post-season became very eventful against a tough Washington University team. After falling behind 2-0, the Thunder flexed their muscle with four goals in the final 20 minutes to advance to their fifth final four, meeting the high expecations set in September.

Thunder scoring is led by senior Jaime Orewiler with 14 goals and 16 assists, followed by junior Keri Shannon with 13 goals and 13 assists, and freshman Anna Seabolt with 12 goals and 2 assists. Senior Katelyn Kishkunas has 11 assists on the year.

Ithaca Season Review

Junior Rachael Palladino of Ithaca Photo by Ithaca Athletics

So how did the Top 25 voters miss on Ithaca? As the only unranked team in the final four, the Bombers not only showed up well in the post-season, but started the season well too. After a 2-1 win over a ranked TCNJ side, they tied with Elizabethtown, and then went on a 4 game winning streak, outscoring their opponents 16-2. The Bombers fell to two NCAA post-season participants in the regular season; a 4-3 loss to Misericordia and a 2-1 overtime loss to a ranked Stevens team. After a tie with Nazareth, Ithaca then added a third loss in the Empire 8 conference tournament final.

But a tested Bomber team entered the post-season with confidence and knocked off No. 14 Illinois Wesleyan in overtime, No. 16 Ohio Northern, and No. 3 Trinity (Texas) in two overtimes. Then in the quarterfinal round, Ithaca seemed to catch a break with a 2-0 win over Cortland in the normal 90 minutes.

Ithaca played a balance of offense and defense throughout the season, giving up an average of almost a goal per game, yet putting 2.5 goals per game on the board. Only one of their three losses was by more than one goal, so there is no real weakness on this team. In key matches, the Bomber defense seems to firm up, as as demonstrated in the win over IWU, ONU, and Trinity.

Junior Rachael Palladino leads the Ithaca scoring attack with 15 goals and 7 assists, followed up by junior Julie Winn with 8 goals and 8 assists. Sophomores Amanda Callahan and Ellyn Grant-Keane are third and fourth with 19 points each. Junior Becca Salant is active in the net with 128 saves and an .871 goals against average.

Head Coaches

Wheaton (Ill.)

Pete Felske, 24th year (1987-2011)

Overall: 385-94-26 (.788)

NCAAs (15 of 24 yrs.): 40-8-5 (.802), Champion 2004, 2006, 2007, Runner-up 2008, Semifinal 2001, Quarterfinals 99-02, Third Round 00-09-10, Second Round 97-98-03

Ithaca

Mindy Quigg, 18th year (1994-2011)

Overall: 243-80-44 (.722)

NCAAs (14 of 18 yrs.): 34-16-5 (.664), Champion 1990, 1991, Quarterfinals 96-07-08-09, Third Round 93, Second Round 94-04-06-10, First Round 97-99-00-03-05

Seniors' 4-year Record (through Nov. 20)

Wheaton (Ill.): 81-11-8 (.850) overall | NCAAs (08-09-10-11): 8-1-3, Runner-up 2008, Sweet 16 - 2010

Ithaca: 61-16-8 (.765) overall | NCAAs (08-09-10-11): 6-3-1, Quarterfinals 2008, 2009

Tournament Experience

Wheaton (Ill.): Wheaton has become a consistent performer in the post-season tournament. National titles in 2004, 2006, and 2007 gives the program some swagger, and as a senior led team, there are strong memories of the 2008 semifinal win and title game loss, as well as the Sweet 16 experience from 2010. This year, the Thunder have had only one tough match in the post-season in their 4-2 come from behind win over No. 13 Washington University.

IthacaThe Bombers have now appeared in 22 NCAA post-season tournaments. Only fellow seminfinalist William Smith has made as many appearances. Ithaca is 27-16-8 in the post-season including national championships in 1990 and 1991. In 2010, Ithaca reached the second round, edging Springfield 1-0 and falling 3-0 to TCNJ. The Bombers are a younger team yet most of the current players have at least two years of post-season experience. And the run through the 2011 field has been impressive and certainly has given the Bombers confidence that they can beat anyone this year.

Analysis

It would appear that Wheaton has an edge with their superior record, their tougher OWP, and their senior experience. But the evidence of the past two weeks says that Ithaca is easily as tough as Wheaton and perhaps as tough as anyone. 

The only common opponent to examine is Illinois Wesleyan and those results provide little in the way of clues. Wheaton was a 3-2 winner earlier in the season, and had to resort to penalty kicks to get by them in the conference final. Ithaca beat this same Titan squad 2-1 in overtime in the first round. Considering the regular season, Ithaca was 2-2-0 against teams in the 2011 post-season tournament. The Bombers defeated Cortland 4-1 and No. 17 New Jersey 2-1, and fell 4-3 to Misericordia and 2-1 to No. 22 Stevens in overtime. In the same light, Wheaton was 6-0-0 against 2011 tournament teams. The Thunder beat No. 9 Loras 3-1, Aurora 2-0, No. 13 Wash U. 2-0, Ohio Wesleyan 4-0, No. 12 Wartburg 2-1, and No. 14 Illinois Wesleyan.

Unlike the first semifinal between Messiah and William Smith, these two sides are different in many ways. The difference in OWP is significant and can explain the variance in the above results. The rather slight difference in the goals scored and allowed stats are indeed supported by the regular season records. But in the post-season, stats only tell part of the story. This Ithaca team has demonstrated that they can hang with and beat three highly ranked programs. They are a team that can do the same to Wheaton.

If Wheaton can prepare for Ithaca as a defensive team that can counter with a shock goal, then they will be ready for this Bomber side. But the Thunder will have to be dilligent in the back, not giving away any easy opportunities, and play the game that gave them their 3 goals per game average. 

 

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

Comments or feedback for the author?  E-mail James Matson.