Wheaton (Ill.) 4, Christopher Newport 0



WHEATON , Ill. The #3-ranked Wheaton College (Ill.) women's soccer team (23-1) advance to the Final Four of the NCAA Division III Women's Soccer tournament with a 4-0 victory over Christopher Newport Captains (16-4-3). The Thunder will face the winner of a match between defending National Champion Oneonta State and #2-ranked Wheaton College of Norton, Massachusetts. That match will be played on Sunday, at 1pm EST. The Final Four will be played at Macpherson Stadium at Bryan Park, in Greensboro, N.C. More information is available at the official Final Four Website.

Despite Wheaton's statistical domination in the first half (18-1 shots), the teams entered the locker rooms tied 0-0. The Thunder broke through in the 48th minute when senior Ashley Wiersma scored off of a cross from sophomore Laura Koontz. Freshman midfielder Bethany Barton scored her third goal of the season twenty minutes later to make the score 2-0.

Just 37 seconds later junior Hannah Tan sprinted the length of the field and scored her sixth goal of the season. Wiersma added her second goal of the game and 18th of the season in 89th minute off of a Katie Fichera assist. Wiersma's 18th goal is tied for sixth most in a season with Rebecca Mouw (2001).

Wheaton outshot Christopher Newport 39-3, including 24 shots on goal. Wheaton had nine corner kicks to Christopher Newports' 1.

Junior Ashley Vratil started in net for the Thunder. Senior Brita Nelson played the second half and made the Thunder's only two saves. Lindsey Naill made 19 saves and allowed 4 goals for Christopher Newport. Captain defenders made one back save.

Wheaton College will be making its second appearance in the NCAA Women's Soccer Final Four. In 2001, Wheaton lost 1-0 to Amherst College in the National Semifinal. The women's soccer team is the only women's team sport to appear in a "Final Four". The Thunder have a 1-0 record against Wheaton College (Mass.) beating the Lyons last season 1-0 at East McCully Field. Wheaton has never faced Oneonta State, which won last years' National Championship with a 2-1 overtime victory against the University of Chicago.

In the other side of the bracket, fellow #3-ranked Messiah College has advanced to the Final Four and will face the winner of a Sunday match between the #6- ranked University of Puget Sound and #22-ranked Macalester College (Minn.) in the Pacific Northwest. Wheaton trails Messiah 1-2-1 in the all-time series, including a 0-1 loss (2OTs-PKs) in the 2002 Round of Eight. Macalester has an 8- 4-1 record all-time against the Thunder, but Wheaton defeated Macalester 4-0 this season in Wheaton. Wheaton and Puget Sound have never faced each other.

-- Courtesy Wheaton College (Ill.)