One More Hill to Climb! No. 4 CWRU Defeats Virginia Wesleyan 3-0 in NCAA Semifinal

CWRU Women's Soccer Team after winning the semifinal match
Photo by Dan Hunter

The fourth-ranked Case Western Reserve University women's soccer team put itself one win away from claiming the first team national championship in Spartan history with a 3-0 win over Virginia Wesleyan University in the 2022 NCAA Division III Women's Soccer Championship Semifinal at Kerr Stadium in Salem, Virginia on Friday night.

With Friday's win the Spartans have matched the best NCAA finish ever by a CWRU team, along with the 2021 and 2022 men's tennis teams, which each finished as the national runner-up. Case Western Reserve will face second-ranked Johns Hopkins University at Kerr Stadium on Sunday, December 4 at 12 p.m. for the NCAA Division III Women's Soccer Championship. The Blue Jays (22-0-2) defeated fifth-ranked Messiah University 4-1 in the first semifinal match earlier in the day.

The Spartans enter the national championship match with a 20-0-1 record on the season, extending their single season program record for wins.

The three goals increased Case Western Reserve's total to 22 over their five NCAA postseason games this season, setting a new record for the most goals scored by a team in a single tournament in NCAA Division III history. It surpassed the previous mark of 21, set by Messiah during the 2011 NCAA Championship. CWRU has now scored at least three goals in each of its five NCAA Tournament games this season.

Facing a team in Virginia Wesleyan that had allowed just one goal through its four NCAA Tournament games and started an All-American goalkeeper in the Marlins' Rachel Quigley, the CWRU offense proved more than worthy of the task with first half goals from graduate student forward Camryn Hartman and senior midfielder Anika Washburn and a second half tally from senior forward Helina VanBibber.

Hartman put the Spartans on the board in the 17th minute, scoring her 14th goal of the season. She received a pass at the top of the box and challenged a Marlin defender, gaining an angle to shoot. Hartman then laced the ball over the goalkeeper's head and into the bottom right corner of the goal. Her 14 goals are tied for second most in a single season in program history, one away from tying the program record, and her 38 points are two away from tying the program record. Hartman has scored or tallied an assist in 18 of the team's 20 matches this season.

Washburn doubled the lead with four minutes remaining in the first half, scoring her fourth goal of the season and the 35th of her career. She took possession of the ball in the middle of the field at the edge of the attacking third and made one move around a defender before sending a shot from just outside the 18-yard box past the outstretched arms of the diving Quigley and into the goal.

VanBibber scored the final goal of the match early in the second half, getting a cross in the middle of the 18-yard box, settling it around a defender, and sending a shot into the upper right corner of the goal to extend the team's lead to 3-0 in the 63rd minute. It was her 10th goal of the season and her fifth of the tournament.

Junior goalkeeper Maggie Storti recorded her eighth shutout of the season and the 18th of her career, saving four shots to keep the Marlins off the board. Seniors Lexi GomezElizabeth White, and Merry Meyer, and sophomore Katie Rishel played all but five minutes on the Spartan backline, allowing just 10 shots in the match.

The Spartans outshot the Marlins 22-10 in the match, including a 9-4 advantage in shots on goal. Hartman and VanBibber each had a match-high five shots, with Hartman putting a match-high three on goal.