VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The Bridgewater College women's soccer team stunned No. 3 ranked Virginia Wesleyan, 2-1, Thursday night to advance to the championship game of the ODAC tournament for the first time in program history.
The Eagles will travel to Lynchburg on Sunday afternoon to play for the ODAC title. Bridgewater will face the Lynchburg Hornets, a 4-1 winner Wednesday evening over Shenandoah in the other semifinal matchup. The Hornets are ranked No. 7 in the latest NCAA Division III Top 25 poll. Game time for Sunday's title game will be announced on Friday.
"When we brought in this senior class four years ago we set a goal of playing for an ODAC title," Bridgewater head coach Mike Van Horn said. "This win gives us that opportunity. It's a huge step forward for the program. Beating one of the top-ranked teams in the country on their home field is not easy."
Melanie Waters scored the winning goal in the final minute when she headed a pass from Morgan Keplinger into the right corner of the net with just 22 ticks left on the clock to lift the Eagles to the epic victory.
The Eagles were in this one the entire way and scored in the 37th minute to take the lead. Sarah Conner took a well-placed through ball from Michelle Viegas and scored from the left side from five yards out for the only goal of the first half.
"Getting that first goal was huge from a confidence standpoint," Van Horn said. "We showed that we could score on them. Michelle played a great ball behind their defense and Sarah finished the play."
The Marlins evened the score early in the second half when Christina Fernandez took a crossing pass from Kaitlyn Clunan and scored from five yards out to tie the score in the 49th minute.
"Even when Wesleyan tied it early in the second half, we kept our composure," Van Horn added. "All year long we have talked about finishing opportunities against good teams. I was getting ready to go to overtime when we got one last opportunity in the last minute. Morgan made a great pass and Mel finished it."
Virginia Wesleyan held a 19-8 edge in shots, but shots on goal were even at four apiece. The Marlins also held a slim 4-2 edge in corner kicks.
Conner and Waters made the most of their shot attempts. Both took one shot and both found the back of the net. Viegas and Anna Theisen each had two shot attempts for the Eagles.
Lindsey McDole got the start in goal for the Eagles and played the entire game. She finished with three saves and allowed just the one goal.
With the victory, the Eagles are now 12-6-2 overall. The loss was the first of the season for the Marlins, now 18-1-1 overall.