Might Oakland City University soccer women win a national championship?
Given how they’ve performed this season, and the numbers in the coming event, a title doesn’t seem out of the Lady Oaks’ reach in the National Christian College Athletic Association Division I Championships that were to open yesterday on the Austin-Tindall Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Florida.
Owners of a 9-5-2 record, Coach Katie Harrison’s team is seeded fourth in the nine-team tournament that will climax Saturday afternoon. Grace, of upstate Winona Lake, is seeded first in its bid for a second straight national championship. Roberts Wesleyan is seeded #2, Trinity Christian #3 and Bob Jones University #7.
The Lady Oaks got to scout their Pool C rivals Monday when Trinity Christian, the Chicago suburban Palos Heights school that won national titles in 2005 and 2018, took a 12-5-4 record against Bob Jones, the Greenville, South Carolina, team that owned a 14-5-1 log. OCU will debut against Bob Jones at 5:00 p.m. CST today, then face Trinity Christian at 5:00 p.m. Wednesday.
No matches are slated Thursday, although a couple could be played that day to decide the fourth berth in Friday’s 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Semifinals that will be reseeded. Saturday’s championship match is scheduled at 3:00 p.m. CST.
Grace, #6-seed Judson of Elgin, Illinois, and #9-seed Bethany Christian comprise Pool A. Roberts Wesleyan, #5-seed Carolina University and #8-seed Columbia International form Pool B.
Not only are the Lady Oaks the #4-seed, they’re fifth among tourney teams in the power ratings. Cedarville and Ottawa (Arizona) University are 1-2, but neither team is competing in the NCCAA Championships. Roberts Wesleyan, Grace and Campbellsville (Kentucky), are rated 3rd, 4th, and 5th, respectively.
Trinity Christian is rated #6, OCU #7, followed by Carolina University and Judson. Bob Jones is #10.
Cedarville and Grace are 1-2 in the final NCCAA Coaches’ Poll released Monday. Roberts Wesleyan is #4, Trinity Christian #5, Campbellsville #6, Judson #7 and Bob Jones #8. Carolina and Bethel, of Mishawaka, Indiana, complete the top 10. The only other team to receive votes? — Oakland City with three.
Perhaps on the down side is that the Lady Oaks haven’t played since November 5, when they lost 2-1 to Rio Grande (Ohio) in the River States Conference Tournament’s first round match played on Evansville’s Goebel Sports Complex because Aigner Field was mud-stricken and couldn’t be dried in time. They didn’t play an NCCAA Mideast Regional because no other team entered that regional. So they could potentially be rusty.
While idle from competition, they’ve received honors. Sophomore midfielder Claudia Melgar, junior goalkeeper Kassidy Elkin and junior defender Maddie Myers made the All-River States First Team.
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Melgar, of Mexico City, Mexico, leads the Lady Oaks with 12 goals and 26 points, Elkin, a Newburgh resident, has held foes to 0.99 goals per game and owns an .803 save percentage. Those figures are respectively third and fourth in the RSC. Myers, a Floyds Knobs resident and New Albany High grad, keys the defense in front of Elkin.
Alana Doherty, junior midfielder from Donegal, Ireland, is joined on the All-RSC Second Team by Newburgh resident and former Castle standout Madison Ward, a key member of the OCU defense.
Evansville-bred sophomore forward Kennedy Hospelhorn not only received honorable mention in All-RSC voting, but she is also OCU’s representative on the league’s Champions of Character Team. She is among eight Lady Oaks on the RSC Scholar-Athlete Team.
Backup goalkeeper Kennedy Blacklock, junior from Francisco and Wood Memorial, is also an RSC Scholar-Athlete. So are Myers, Ward, twins Megan and Molly Knox, Makenna Langenhorst and Rachael Poneskis.
OCU’s roster also includes Princeton-bred sophomore Clara Heldt and North Posey-bred freshman Lauren Zirkelbach of Poseyville. Zirkelbach and Doherty, each with four goals and nine points, share third-place on the team’s scoring list behind Melgar and Rhiannon O’Looney, sophomore from England. Madison Nicolas, junior from North Harrison High and Corydon, has scored eight points to Hospelhorn’s seven and Ward’s six.
Evansville North-bred sophomore defender Drake Dickens and Vigo, Spain-bred freshman forward Roberto Dominguez are on the All-RSC Men’s Soccer First Team. Junior goalkeeper Laurin Aumueller, junior midfielder Matt Menegon, sophomore midfielder Sergio Revuelta and freshman defender Martin Burgos made the Second Team. Junior forward Reijmar Westerbroek received honorable mention recognition.
Senior defender Dan Juckes, from Westchester, England, is the Mighty Oaks’ RSC Champions of Character Team Member. He’s also an RSC Scholar-Athlete along with Revuelta.
Westerbroek, Princeton-bred junior forward Licson Regis, sophomore defender Michele Zucchi, junior midfielder Giorgie Alberti, sophomore defender Benjamin Soto, senior goalkeeper Gonzalo Salo, junior defender Sebastian Ortuno, junior midfielder Brian Elzarraras, plus sophomore defenders Alexis Coelho and Sulfate.
Coach Adam Sell’s Mighty Oaks posted a 9-7-6 record, beating Point Park in their RSC tourney opener before losing at West Virginia Tech and then 3-1 in two overtimes to Covenant in an NCCAA Mid-East Regional Semifinal at Aigner Field. Covenant beat Campbellsville 1-0 in the Regional final, but received an at-large berth to join Covenant in the NCCAA Championships also began yesterday in Kissimmee, Florida.