Women’s soccer clinches WIAC tournament berth

Dylan Piccolo, Staff Reporter

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The women’s soccer team was able to sneak into the WIAC tournament in its final week of regular season play.

The team’s first match was a non-conference showdown on the road at Viterbo University. The Warhawks got on the board first with senior defender Payton DeLuga’s third goal of the season in the 35th minute.

It was a dominant ball possession half for the team, but they couldn’t get that second goal to give them a little more cushion. The Warhawks had their fair share of chances to extend the lead in the first half but couldn’t convert on four corner kick opportunities and six shots.

As the first half was all Whitewater, it was Viterbo who dominated the second half. The V-Hawks poured eight shots onto Warhawk junior goalkeeper Nina Yonan’s net, and the second one found the tether in the 48th minute off the foot of Nicole D’Ambrose.

The second half carried on with Whitewater trying to find the goal to put them back ahead.

They had a golden opportunity in the 57th minute as senior defender Lauren Otto was called on to take a penalty kick but failed to convert as Viterbo’s Abby Bretibach made the save.

The game finished scoreless in regulation, but it wasn’t long until D’Ambrose sealed the deal with the game-winning goal in sudden-victory overtime.

This set up a “win and you’re in” match against UW-River Falls at Fiskum Field for the right to play in the WIAC championships.

Whitewater was on its game early, putting the pressure on River Falls with nine first half shots forcing goalkeeper Amanda Ladue to make four first half saves.

She couldn’t stop them all, as UW-W freshman midfielder Carli Nehls, put the ball in the goal in the 20th minute from a corner-kick assist by sophomore forward Anna Boyd.

It was the similar situation that the Warhawks were in against Viterbo, up one goal, with a lot of game to go. But this time was different. With a playoff berth on the line, the Warhawks kept attacking River Falls with nine more shots on goal in the second half.

Freshman forward Savannah Curtis, who has been an offensive specialist off the bench all season, put through an insurance goal on the follow up in the 77th minute to give Whitewater a clear path to the WIAC championships.

“It was great to finish two goals and get to Tuesday, so we can see what happens,” said senior defender Alyssa Lennon.

Junior defender Katy Kusswurm said it was crucial to bounce back against River Falls.

“Wednesday was a little bit of a wakeup call, and it was important we got back on track today,” Kusswurm said.

The Warhawks finished the regular season 9-9-1 and 3-4 in the WIAC. The next matchup for the ladies is a road trip to UW-Platteville Oct. 30. The Warhawks defeated the Pioneers 1-0 on the road earlier in the season.

Head coach Ryan Quamme noted he likes his team’s chances heading into the WIAC tournament.

“This team has a lot of talent,” Quamme said. “We hope to make some noise in the WIAC tournament.”