BRIDGEWATER, Va. – The Bridgewater women's soccer team had a tough road to travel in order to reach the ODAC Championship game.
The task involved beating one of the nation's top teams on their home field. The Eagles navigated that trip by defeating No. 3 Virginia Wesleyan, 2-1, Thursday evening in the ODAC semifinals. The loss was the first of the year for the Marlins.
If the Eagles are going to hoist the program's first championship plaque on Sunday, they're going to have to do it all over again.
The trip will be a little shorter, but the task looming in the distance is just as daunting. Waiting for the Eagles is another unbeaten, nationally-ranked team – the No. 7 Lynchburg College Hornets.
The Eagles enter Sunday's contest with plenty of confidence. Not only is the team coming off the biggest win in program history, it also went toe-to-toe with the Hornets during the regular season. The Eagles battled the Hornets to a scoreless deadlock for more than 119 minutes before the Hornets scored the game-winning goal in the final minute of the second overtime period.
The Eagles are certainly excited to be playing in their first championship game and they have their eyes cleared focused on the prize ahead.
"We're not happy just to be there, we're coming to play," Eagles head coach Mike Van Horn said.
Defeating another undefeated, top-ranked foe will require another strong effort from the Eagles.
"It's the same formula for Sunday," Van Horn explained. "We have to play strong team defense in our defensive third and avoid big mistakes. Then, in our offensive third we have to finish our opportunities.
"That's what happened at Wesleyan. We limited our mistakes on defense and when we did make a mistake, Virginia Wesleyan failed to take advantage of it. On offense, when we created opportunities we finished them. Going to Lynchburg is certainly not an easy task, but it's one we're going to embrace."
Like Virginia Wesleyan, the Hornets are loaded with offensive firepower. Lynchburg boasts the top two scorers in the ODAC with Angela Bosco and Dessi Dupuy. Bosco leads the conference in points with 58 and assists with 14. Dupuy is second in points with 53 and leads the ODAC in goals scored with 24, tow more than Bosco. First-year player Morgan Singer provides a strong third option with 12 goals.
"They have multiple girls who can hurt you," Van Horn said. "It's going to take great team defense for 90 minutes, maybe longer."
The Hornets also boast a stellar defense anchored by senior goalie Audrey Moore. Lynchburg has allowed just seven goals the entire season with Moore boasting a 0.39 goals against average.
"I thought we created some opportunities to score the first time we played," Van Horn said. "The difference for our team in the tournament is the fact that we have been able to finish scoring chances against good teams. Melanie (Waters) and Sarah (Connor) each had one shot against Wesleyan, but each scored and that's huge. That's what we'll have to do Sunday."
Sunday's championship game will be played at 1 p.m.