Women’s Soccer: AU wins NAC championship game
By Bill Kindt For Sun-Times Media November 2, 2012 7:02PM
Updated: December 12, 2012 10:42PM
Fast starts are like an instant jolt of electricity.
They can put a charge into a team with the resulting energy often leading to victory.
That’s exactly what happened to Aurora University’s women’s soccer team in the championship game of the Northern Athletics Conference Tournament Friday at Vago Field.
Goals by Nicole Wolfe and Raquel Rodriguez in the first 12 minutes staked the Spartans to a quick lead over Edgewood College and the Spartans went on to a 2-0 victory and an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III Tournament.
AU will find out who and where they’ll play on Monday. It is the fourth straight year, and sixth out of the last seven, that AU has qualified for the tournament.
Wolfe’s goal, her 17th of the season, came after a pass from Lisa Bajkowski and rocketed past Edgewood goalie Tori Fortney, a sophomore and a graduate of Batavia High School, five minutes into the game.
Rodriguez was at the right place at the right time seven minutes later. Wolfe started the play when she sent another screamer at the Eagle goal. Fortney stopped Wolfe’s shot but Rodriguez was there to knock in the rebound.
“We came out extremely well in the first half and really established ourselves,” AU coach Troy Edwards said. “Getting the two early goals really set the tone for us.”
Once the Spartans (19-1-1) took the early lead, the pressure was off the defense.
“It makes the game pretty much relaxed for me,” senior defender Britney Schenck said. “I can stay focused and do my job. It also takes some of the pressure off and I can make runs up the field and be an attacking player.”
Although the Spartans failed to score after Rodriguez notched her fifth goal of the season, they totally dominated the game. The offense kept the ball in Edgewood territory and the Eagles (15-4-1) seldom made a run at AU keeper Liz Wong.
That meant defenders Schenck, Kaity Brough, Anya Vincenti and NAC Defensive Player of the Year Jenee Lange, had to work hard to maintain their focus.
“It’s not like we don’t have to do anything,” Brough said. “The ball is still in our end quite a bit and we do get in the offense. We do have to stay focused to help make runs.”
A big part of AU’s defensive effort was to keep tabs on Edgewood’s Elaine Gerry. She is one of the top scorers in Division III with 25 goals and 58 points.
Gerry took only one shot in 90 minutes and wasn’t on goal. In fact, Wong didn’t need to make a save all day.
“She scored a lot of goals this year and we wanted to keep her out of the game as much as possible and our backs did a great job doing that,” Edwards said.
It all followed the script perfectly.