Wheaton Eyes Eighth NEWMAC Tournament Championship
NORTON, Mass.- The nationally-ranked Wheaton College women's soccer team enters this weekend's New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament eying its eighth league championship since 2000, as the third-seeded Lyons travel to Springfield College for a Saturday semifinal game against second seed Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) at 3:00 p.m.
Appearing in a conference tournament semifinal round for the 18th straight year, Wheaton faces MIT in a semifinal for the third time in the last four seasons. The Lyons and Engineers are 3-3 against each other in the postseason, with MIT winning the first meeting in 1994 and last two in 2009 and 2011, and Wheaton emerging victorious in 1996, 2002 and 2007. Saturday's first semifinal features top seed Springfield against fourth seed Babson College at 12:00 p.m. Sunday's title game is slated for 1:00 p.m.
Seeking its 13th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, the Blue and White enters Saturday with a 16-1-4 record and rankings of 16th in the country and third in New England by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA). Wheaton finished the league's regular season slate at 7-1-1, blanking seven of its opponents while holding a 23-3 scoring advantage.
During Wednesday's first-round game against sixth seed Wellesley College, the Lyons notched a 2-1 win. At 13-3-1 and 8-1, MIT picked up one of two opening-round byes. During the regular season, Wheaton dropped a 2-1 decision to the Engineers in Norton.
The Lyons are on a five-game unbeaten streak, having gone 3-0-2 in that stretch. Wheaton leads the NEWMAC in scoring offense and defense, averaging 2.59 goals while surrendering 0.59. The Blue and White also paces the league with 57 goals and 12 shutouts. Boasting a 26-4-3 mark during their last 33 league tournament games, the Lyons have blanked the opposition in 16 of their last 18 tourney wins.
Sixteen different players have found the back of the net, with sophomore Lauren Corigliano (Roselle Park, N.J./Roselle Park) leading the way with conference bests of 13 goals and 32 points and a league-high-tying four game-winners. Freshman Cat Amick (Vashon, Wash./Vashon Island) has contributed nine goals and 22 points, while classmate Julia Cipriano (Middlebury, Conn./Pomperaug) has turned in eight markers, a conference-high-tying eight assists and four game-winners, and 24 points. Senior Cassey Muse (Candia, N.H./Central) adds eight goals, seven assists and 23 points.
Wheaton's veteran backfield features seniors Samantha Bennett (Weymouth, Mass./Weymouth) and Jordan Muse (Candia, N.H./Central), junior Rachelle Rodman (Fair Oaks, Calif./Bella Vista) and freshman Tess Weyburne (Maynard, Mass./Maynard). The Lyon defense has held all but two opponents to a goal or less. Freshman keeper Taylor Wilson (Bellingham, Mass./Bellingham) is 8-0-4 with a 0.71 goals against average in 12 starts, while classmate Ali Hinton (Lafayette, Colo./Alexander Dawson School) is 8-1 with a 0.50 GAA in nine starts. Hinton paces the NEWMAC in GAA, and Wilson stands third.