NewsLady Cougars Capture National Title in only Fourth Season
written by Dave Parsons, Sports Information Director
KISSIMMEE, Fla. - In the fall of 2000, the Mount Vernon Nazarene University women's soccer program began its first season of varsity competition. Now, four years later, the Lady Cougars have a national title under their belts as MVNU blanked second-seeded Trinity International (Ill.) University 2-0 in the championship game of the National Christian College Athletic Association national tournament at the Austin-Tindall Soccer Complex on Monday evening.
The game was scoreless through the first 53 minutes of the match when junior forward Catherine Hess finally broke through with a goal off an assist from sophomore defender Leanna Goss to put the top-seeded Lady Cougars (20-3-1) in front 1-0. The goal was the third of the tournament for Hess and her career-high 19th of the season.
In the 83rd minute, MVNU scored its second goal of the match to seal the victory. Freshman midfielder Lindsay See brought the ball up the right flank and launched a shot that landed in the box and bounced towards the goal. Sophomore forward Kristen Votapek ran towards the goal to challenge Heather Scherrer, the Lady Trolls' goalkeeper, and another Trinity International defender for the ball. All three players missed the ball and it rolled into the back of the net for See's second goal of the season - both of which came in the national tournament.
It was fitting that the Lady Cougars were able to post a shutout as they finished the season having allowed just 12 goals in 24 matches while posting a school-record 15 shutouts. Freshman goalkeeper Krysti Wilson stopped four shots in recording her fourteenth shutout - the fourth highest shutout total in NAIA history. She did not allow a goal during her 230 minutes of action in the tournament.
"I am so proud of this team and the way that they played at the tournament," said MVNU head coach Jonathan Meade. "The players showed me what they were capable of doing as everyone stepped up their level of play and contributed to this national championship.
"Trinity International is a great team and really caused us some problems early on," Meade added. "This was an exciting championship match between two outstanding teams. Our players just kept believing that they could do it, and we were able to come out on top."
"Winning the (national) title is an awesome feeling," said Hess, who finished with three goals and three assists in the three games at the tournament. "This team is so special because we have such great chemistry. Everyone does their job and supports each other. Not only do we play to win, but we also try to play in such a way that people can see Christ through us. This is a great way to cap off an incredible season."
Votapek, who finished the season with a school-record 32 goals after scoring four goals with two assists at the tournament, was named the Most Valuable Player of the event. She was joined on the All-Tournament Team by Hess, senior defender Cheryl Balogh, and senior midfielder Lisa Hinman.
"This tournament was a great event," said Meade. "The quality of the teams was outstanding, and the opportunity to do a soccer clinic was a good ministry opportunity for our team. We also had a great group of parents who made the trip, and they even pitched in to help with some of the tournament responsibilities when some of the local volunteers did not show up. I really feel like we represented ourselves, our institution, and our Lord in a first class way this week."
Balogh, Hinman, and fellow seniors Karen Stasiowski, Sarah Rinehart, Katrina Iles, and Kristi Tuck wrapped up their careers as the first four-year varsity players in the program's history by compiling a 59-28-2 overall record (.674 winning percentage). They will leave a winning legacy as a foundation for future classes to build on.
The NCCAA national title is also the third for MVNU in the past three years. The women's basketball team captured its second NCCAA national championship in 2001, and the men's basketball team captured its first NCCAA national crown in 2002.