By Matthew Wellman, staff writer
The Southern Nazarene women’s soccer team swept the NCCAA Central Regional tournament to punch their ticket to Kissimmee, Florida to play in the national championship. They beat MACU 5-1 in the semifinals and then took down Oklahoma Wesleyan 3-0 to win the regional tournament.
It started Friday against Mid America Christian University. MACU got an early goal, but the Storm would come back and score 5 unanswered to take the semi-final 5-1. Junior Sherri Collins scored 3 and sophomore Bekah Stewart added 2 to round out the Storm’s scoring.
“We have never had the bond we have this year and it shows when we play. These girls are the best group of girls, there is no other way to leave your college career than with the girls this year,” said senior Rachel Atnip.
The girls played again on Saturday for the regional championship against Oklahoma Wesleyan University. SNU got an early goal from sophomore Mallary Schaub and would never look back. Collins added another to bring her tournament total to 4 and Schaub had another late goal. Freshman goalkeeper Yoli Zamarripa needed just 1 save to blank the Eagles and send the Storm to the national tournament on a 3-0 victory.
“The biggest factor this weekend was we came and played as a team. We were on our game all over the field. We wanted it more than the other teams. As a team, nationals are another experience for us to grow as a team and to grow as individuals. If we come out to play and connect like we do off the field there is no doubt that we can do it,” said Atnip.
Senior Kendra Nixon said about earning the trip to the national tournament, “We went to nationals my freshman year, so it’s awesome to start and finish my college career on such a high note. Going to nationals just shows that all the hard work we’ve put into this season is finally paying off!”
SNU is one of eight teams to punch their ticket to the NCCAA national tournament. The Storm are the fifth seed and will kick off the tournament Wednesday, November 28th against fourth seeded Houghton (N.Y.) College. The game is slated to begin at 7:30 p.m. The girls are guaranteed at least 2 games but are eliminated from contention for the championship after 1 loss.