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BRIDGEWATER, Va. - Bridgewater College made its first trip to the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Championship Game a year ago. The Eagles will have the opportunity to make a return trip this season if they can get by Washington and Lee in a semifinal contest Tuesday afternoon. The semifinal match will be played on the W&L campus in Lexington, Va., beginning at 2 p.m.
Getting past W&L, a 1-0 winner over Randolph-Macon in the quarterfinals, will not be an easy task. The Generals, the No. 2 seed in the tournament, enter the semis with a 16-2-1 record and boast one of the top defenses in the ODAC. Against conference teams, W&L has allowed just three goals the entire season. One of those goals was scored by the Eagles in a 2-1 loss to the Generals in the regular season finale.
"We just played them a week ago, so we're familiar with what they do," Bridgewater head coach Mike Van Horn said. "Neither team will play that differently. We know what to expect."
In the regular season finale, W&L led 1-0 at the half on a goal by Tricia Jessee and a goal by Lauren Abraham in the first two minutes of the second half made the score 2-0. The Eagles answered minutes later with a goal by Julia Baca to make it 2-1, but Bridgewater was unable to notch the equalizer during the remaining 40 minutes of play.
The Eagles enter Tuesday's semifinal on the heels of a 1-0 upset victory over Virginia Wesleyan, the tourney's No.3 seed. Bridgewater has now eliminated the Marlins from the ODAC tournament the past two years.
In Saturday's upset victory, the defenses dominated as the teams battled to a scoreless tie through the first 86 minutes. With overtime looming, the Eagles broke through on a set piece with just less than four minutes left in regulation. Nikole Blackwell's corner kick was headed out by a Marlins' defender, but Bridgewater's Anna Theisen took the ball out of the air and headed the shot just under the crossbar for what proved to be the game-winner.
Van Horn knows his team will need a similar performance to come out on top against the Generals.
"W&L is very disciplined defensively," Van Horn said. "We have to stay composed on the ball. We need to maintain possession of the ball and dictate tempo. We were able to do that against Virginia Wesleyan."
Baca leads the Eagles in scoring with 18 points on nine goals. Melanie Waters has 16 points on six goals and four assists. Theisen and Michelle Viegas are tied for the team lead with five assists each.
Holley Beasley paces the Generals offense with 23 points on eight goals and seven assists. Jessee also has eight goals for W&L and Haley Ward is second in the ODAC with nine assists. W&L keeper Addie Healey ranks second in the conference with a 0.41 goals against average.
The other semifinal contest features Lynchburg College, the No. 1 seed, against No. 4 Shenandoah. Lynchburg rolled past Eastern Mennonite 12-1 in the quarterfinals while Shenandoah blanked Roanoke 2-0. Lynchburg will host Shenandoah on Tuesday evening at 7 p.m.