BRIDGEWATER, Va. – The Bridgewater College women's soccer dispatched of one "first" this past Saturday afternoon when they won their first ODAC tournament game by edging Roanoke College in a shootout.
The Eagles will go after another first later this week as they try to reach their first ODAC championship game when they travel to Virginia Beach to meet the tournament's No. 1 seed, the Virginia Wesleyan Marlins.
The effects from Hurricane Sandy in the Beach area has forced the game to be pushed back a day to Thursday. Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. The ODAC women's soccer championship game has been moved to Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m.and will be hosted by the tournament's highest remaining seed.
Reaching the title game will be no easy task for the Eagles.
The Marlins are ranked fifth in the nation with an 18-0-1 record. The only blemish on the ledger is a 0-0 tie with No. 10 Lynchburg. Virginia Wesleyan has been dominant in most of its victories outscoring its opponents by an 86-7 margin. The Marlins advanced to the ODAC semifinals with an overwhelming, 8-0, victory over Emory & Henry in the opening round.
The Eagles, however, will travel to the Beach area with some level of confidence. During the regular season meeting, the Marlins jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but were forced to weather a late Eagles rally and held on for a 3-2 victory. And obviously, the Eagles are riding the high of advancing past Roanoke in the first round.
"Looking back at the regular season game, all three of their goals came off our mistakes," Bridgewater head coach Mike Van Horn said. "Granted, they took advantage of our mistakes and finished their opportunities.
"The biggest thing I liked when looking at that first game is the way the team responded to being down," Van Horn continued. "Down 3-0, we decided to stay and fight and we clawed our way back into the game. The thing we need to learn is you can't make a lot of mistakes against the fifth-ranked team in the nation and expect to win."
The Marlins are led by two of the top point producers in the ODAC. Jessica Edelman ranks third in conference with 37 points on 13 goals and 11 assists. Breanne Ingargiola is not far behind with 33 points on 12 goals and nine assists. Christina Fernandez is a viable third option for the Marlins offense with eight goals and six assists on the season.
"Edelman is an All-American player, but I think Fernandez makes them go," Van Horn said. "She is constantly moving without the ball and when she's not scoring she's setting other people up. All three of their forwards are good and all three can hurt you. They're not easy to defend, but that's the task we have ahead of us."
Erica Keil has spent the majority of the minutes in goal for the Marlins and has allowed just six goals the entire season. She has a goals against average of 0.39.
The Eagles are led in scoring by junior Melanie Waters with 25 points on 10 goals and five assists. Waters returned for action in the Roanoke quarterfinal tournament game after missing the previous four games with an injury. Waters did not play against Virginia Wesleyan during the regular season contest.
Brittney Harris continued her strong late-season play with the Eagles' first goal against Roanoke. Harris, a senior, has scored a goal in four straight games. Junior forward Sarah Connor assisted on Harris' goal to take over the team lead in assists with six this season.
Viegas scored the second goal of the game to put the Eagles on top 2-1. Blackwell and Suyes drilled penalty kicks during the shootout along with Waters and senior Abby Dehoff.
McDole came off the bench to assume the role of keeper during the shootout. McDole stopped Roanoke's first penalty kick in the shootout, giving the Eagles an advantage they would not relinquish.