After winning the 2004 Division III Women’s Soccer Championship in dramatic fashion, the Wheaton (Illinois) Thunder wanted to take care of things early in the 2006 title match.
Two years ago, Wheaton claimed the first national championship in program history with a thrilling performance against Puget Sound. After the teams played to a 1-1 stalemate after regulation and two overtime periods, the Thunder claimed the title on penalty kicks, 5-4.
Things came a bit easier this time around as Wheaton scored twice in the opening half to defeat The College of New Jersey, 2-0, en route to its second national championship in three seasons.
Wheaton junior forward Sarah Richardson netted both goals for the Thunder, the first coming less than 16 minutes into the contest on a feed from freshman midfielder Maria Della Torre. Richardson’s second goal came five minutes before halftime as the junior converted a pass from freshman Taryne Lee to beat TCNJ goalkeeper Jessica Clarke.
The Thunder played superior defense throughout the entire tournament, registering shutouts in each of their six games. Wheaton outscored its opponents, 14-0, in six victories.
"I feel privileged and honored to coach these kids," Wheaton head coach Pete Felske said. "They worked very hard all year and they came together at the right time."
On their road to the national title, the 24-2 Thunder defeated Aurora, Macalester, Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Hardin-Simmons before beating Virginia Wesleyan in the national semifinals.
Richardson, who led the team with 21 goals this season, was named the tournament’s most outstanding offensive player. Lee also earned all-tournament honors, along with goalkeeper Kristin Eggert and defensive most outstanding player Bethany Barton.
TCNJ lost the championship game for the second time in as many years after having fallen to Messiah, 1-0, in 2005.
"I feel for the kids and to have their hearts ripped out two years in a row is difficult," TCNJ head coach Joe Russo said. "It just wasn’t our day. You have to give credit to Wheaton; they are a very good team."
TCNJ has won three national championships, the last one coming in 2000.
The Lions placed three players on the all-tournament team, including Kristen Cubicciotti, Jamie Kunkel and Laura Delaney. Cubicciotti led the team with 10 assists this season.
Virginia Wesleyan’s Ally Hodgkins and Laura Jackson also were selected to the all-tournament team, as were Messiah’s Cali Pitchel and Avie Fitzgerald.
Va. Wesleyan 0, Wash. & Lee 0 (Va. Wesleyan advances on penalty kicks, 4-3); Wheaton (Ill.) 3, Hardin-Simmons 0; TCNJ 0, Amherst 0 (TCNJ advances on penalty kicks, 3-0); Messiah 1, Calvin 1 (Messiah advances on penalty kicks, 5-3).
Messiah 0 0 0 0 — 0
TCNJ 0 0 0 1 —1
Overtime: TCNJ — Courtney Krol (unassisted), 101:53.
Shots: Messiah 6, TCNJ 21. Goalkeeper saves: Messiah (Brindley Beckwith) 7; TCNJ (Jessica Clarke) 4. Corner kicks: Messiah 4, TCNJ 10.
Wheaton (Ill.) 0 2 — 2
Va. Wesleyan 0 0 — 0
Second half: W — Taryne Lee (Laura Koontz, Alyson Webster), 47:25; W — Sarah Richardson (Maria Della Torre), 53:06.
Shots: Wheaton (Ill.) 12, Va. Wesleyan 3. Goalkeeper saves: Wheaton (Ill.) (Kristin Eggert) 2; Va. Wesleyan (Lindsey Williams) 4. Corner kicks: Wheaton (Ill.) 1, Va. Wesleyan 2.
TCNJ 0 0 — 0
Wheaton (Ill.) 2 0 — 2
First half: W — Richardson (Della Torre), 15:27; W — Richardson (Lee), 39:47.
Shots: TCNJ 9, Wheaton (Ill.) 13. Goalkeeper saves: TCNJ (Jessica Clarke) 4; Wheaton (Kristin Eggert) 3. Corner kicks: TCNJ 5, Wheaton (Ill.) 3.