As Williams midfielder Sarah Brink missed a fifth-round penalty kick, Lynchburg College completed an undefeated season and won the first women’s soccer national championship in school history.
“It’s been a long time coming, I’ve been coaching for a long time,” said Lynchburg head coach Todd Olsen, who is in his 21st season as Lynchburg coach. “We’ve played some good teams and it’s exciting. It’s the pinnacle of my career.”
In fact, this title is the first in Lynchburg’s history for any sport.
“That’s exciting because we have some terrific teams at Lynchburg and we have some great history,” Olsen said. “I’m proud that I can bring a championship to Lynchburg College because we have a great community support and I hope the campus is going crazy right now because I know we are.”A seven-save performance from Lynchburg goalkeeper Tess Frelich preserved the shutout through the game and powered the Hornets past 110 minutes without scoring.
“Tess in the goal did a great job,” said Olsen. “I’ve always told everyone I know above everything that defense wins championships and sometimes you have to shut down a great forward to do so.”
The win was sealed in penalties with two Williams kicks going wide.
“Watching them go by was awesome. I’d rather save them, but I’ll take it either way,” was as much as Frelich could say about the shootout.
Regulation time ended 0-0 with each team recording 5 shots on goal. Overtime also proved a tight affair, but neither team was able to break the deadlock. Lynchburg, however, relied on the defense tonight, which includes freshman Emily Maxwell and sophomores Dana Nelsen and Natalie Deacon.
“We’ve been a unit which I think is really important. We play really well together,” Frelich said. “I think this is the most shots we’ve ever faced. It was awesome to see Emily [Maxwell] step up like she did. Even though she’s a freshman she’s always very composed.”
Both of these teams were at the top of the charts in scoring in this year’s tournament. Lynchburg’s 11 goals puts the team in second for goals in the tournament while Williams stands in third with 10.
The two powers seemed to combine for an unbreakable deadlock across regulation and overtime.
“We’re an attack-oriented team and we love to go and try to attack. The first thing is shut down is the attack and you have to have the defense to back it up,” Olsen said. “The extraordinary thing is that our center back is a freshman and our two outside backs are sophomores so we did it with a really young core.”
Olsen talked about his team’s “ugly” win after the 2-1 semifinal win against Illinois Wesleyan on Dec. 5. According to him, his team’s play in the championship was a result of a change in locker room atmosphere.
“Yesterday I don’t think I did very good coaching. I felt like we got them stressed a bit,” Olsen said. “We kept them in their rooms too long, we kept them in the locker room too long and today we said we were not going to do any of that because we’re a loose team, this team just has fun and they’re energetic and they love each other. I took that away from them yesterday.”