Women’s soccer were crowned the Ohio Valley Conference Champions over the weekend. This is the second consecutive time women’s soccer has won the OVC Championship games and will now move on to the NCAA Division I Soccer Championship games to play on a national stage.
The semifinal game took place on Fri. Nov. 5 against Southeast Missouri State. SIUE won the game 3-0. The first goal of the game was scored six minutes into the game by Lydia Harris, a senior defender, and was assisted by Andrea Frerker, a fifth-year midfielder.
Lily Schnieders, a junior forward, scored the second goal of the game in minute 56, and three minutes later MacKenzie Litzsinger, a redshirt sophomore forward, scored the third and final goal of the game giving SIUE the semifinal win and the chance to move on to the OCV championship game.
The championship game was played on Sun. Nov. 7 against University of Tennessee at Martin. No goals were scored during the regulation 90 minutes, so the game went into two 10 minute overtime periods until a goal was scored. SIUE scored a goal within two minutes of overtime. Litzsinger was assisted by Myah Diekema, a senior defender, for the winning goal.
Frerker said that winning goal after a 90-minute regulation game in overtime is a relief, knowing the game immediately ends and the game is won.
“A relief. That is the main word I can use for that situation. Putting the work in for the full 90 minutes really kind of makes that even sweeter at the end. Especially because once the goal goes in the game is done. In the end [it] it was awesome,” Frerker said.
Head Coach Derek Burton said it was a challenge to win again, especially considering that it was only six months ago that they played the last OVC championship game because of last year’s season being pushed back due to COVID-19.
“[Winning] feels fantastic. The team was definitely up for the challenge and are just a relentless group of student-athletes,” Burton said.
Burton said UT Martin has a very good defensive team which made Sunday’s game very difficult, but his players stayed confident in themselves and their teammates to bring home a win.
“We [were] up against a very good defensive team, that made it very difficult. They stay consistent with their approach, that what's made us successful this season and stayed confident with what we had been doing and just stood tall against a really tough opponent again,” Burton said.
The team managed to win both games with a shut out, not allowing the other team to score. Burton said the team’s defense has been outstanding the last six games and has allowed the team to have very good chances of winning.
Frerker said she is excited beyond belief to have won and is still taking it in. The team is preparing to move to the NCAA championship game this weekend.
“Speaking, at least for my senior class, we're ready to go again. This is all we wanted. The team this year is a true family and I feel like they're all my sisters and even the staff and all of the coaches is a true family and it does mean a lot when we get to this point in our season,” Frerker said.
The team has seen a lot of support from the community according to Harris said. Many students and other athletes met them on Sunday night when they returned to campus to congratulate them.
“We had a lot of students there. It was really cool, honestly. We didn't really expect that there would be people there but I mean, [we] came off the bus and a lot of our friends were there. It was really nice to have that welcome home,” Harris said.
Burton said the team is thrilled to have another conference championship tournament.
“We are excited to see what we can do in the national tournament on the national stage,” Burton said.
The team will play in the NCAA Division I Soccer Championship against Notre Dame in South Bend on Sunday, Nov. 14 in the first round of the tournament.