With a dramatic 1-0 win over Greenville College in the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) North Central Region Championship on Nov. 19, the Lady Trojans’ soccer team advanced to the NCCAA National Soccer Championship in Kissimmee, Florida.
The team played in front of a large home crowd with a chance to advance to nationals, and they delivered in exciting fashion. The two teams were locked in a 0-0 tie after the first half as the Lady Trojans played with the wind at their backs and dominated action. The team had a few good opportunities on net but could not capitalize.
Going into a tough wind, the Lady Trojans faced a tough task in the second half, but they were able to break through in the 59th minute as junior Becky Svehla scored on an assist from seniors Diana Anderson and Rachel Bowker to give the Trojans a 1-0 lead.
Greenville would threaten in the ensuing minutes, but would not be able to get one past sophomore goalkeeper Elizabeth Burysnki, who would record five saves on the day. The Lady Trojans celebrated the victory as a light rain fell on Schartner Field, knowing they would be leaving for warm weather eight days later.
Sophomore midfielder Ashley Bowman felt ecstatic after the game as she described the chance to play in nationals as “making a dream that I have had since a little girl come true”. Bowker expressed joy over the opportunity at hand.
“I was so excited to know I was going to experience going to a national tournament. To have the extra couple of weeks playing soccer and being with my team before graduating is an amazing feeling. And to reach something we've worked towards for so long is a great feeling,” Bowker said.
While the team has winning aspirations, the players also expressed gratitude for the opportunity to be playing in the tournament.
“He has blessed us in so many ways this year... with giving us this opportunity to come to Florida. He has blessed us in the way he grown us spiritually through all the good and bad times this season. He has blessed us with an amazing coaching staff who loves us and believes in us no matter what,” Bowker said.
“Obviously I hope we go out and win three games straight and bring a national title back to TIU. I hope that other teams go home saying TIU was a tough team that played hard and represented Christ well,” Bowman said.
Anderson, a CCAC First-Team All-Conference selection this fall, hopes one more week of soccer and growth as a team is in the cards for the Lady Trojans.
“At nationals, I hope this team takes all the skills and soccer knowledge we have been learning lately and put them into action. We are a very talented and passionate team that needs to put that onto the field this week and have a blast doing it. We will have success one way or another,” she said.
The ladies departed for Florida via bus on Sunday night, arriving 22 hours later Monday evening to prepare for the eight-team tournament. They practiced Tuesday in preparation for their first game and also attended a banquet with the participating teams.
As the three seed in the tournament, they faced sixth-seeded Truett-McConnell College on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. central time. The Lady Trojans emerged with a convincing 4-0 victory as freshman Rachel Chapuis scored two goals. Anderson and freshman Melissa Loretto each scored a goal in the winning effort.
After the dominant effort, the Trojans are set to face seventh-seeded Asbury University, a winner over second-seeded Grace College earlier in the day Wednesday, with the winner advancing to the championship game. A tournament recap will be provided in next week’s issue.