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Big Red, Wittenberg ready for NCAC Semifinal clash

Denison battles Wittenberg in the semifinals of the 2013 NCAC Tournament.
Denison battles Wittenberg in the semifinals of the 2013 NCAC Tournament.

Following a pair of shutout wins to close out the regular season, the Denison women's soccer team secured its 13th North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament berth.

Saturday's 2-0 victory over DePauw, coupled with a tie between Allegheny and Wittenberg, earned the Big Red a share of its ninth NCAC regular season title.  Denison, Allegheny and Wittenberg all finished with identical 5-1-2 records and, after the tie was broken, DU received the third seed in the upcoming tournament.  As the third seed, they will travel to Springfield for a 7 p.m. match with the second-seeded Tigers on Wednesday night.

After opening the conference slate with a 1-0 setback in Meadville, the Big Red closed out the NCAC schedule with a 5-0-2 record, including three-straight shutout wins.  Over the final four league matches, Denison outscored its opponents 7-0.

Wednesday's match marks the 35th meeting between the two conference rivals and the sixth in the NCAC Tournament.  DU leads the all-time series 20-8-6, including a 1-1 tie in Springfield on Sept. 12.  The two squads are dead even in the NCAC postseason at 2-2-1.  Both of DU's wins and the lone tie have come in the semifinals of the tournament.

In the double overtime draw on Sept. 12, Lindsay Janmey gave the Tigers a first half lead off a Chelsey Marcum corner kick.  However, an unassisted tally by freshman Jessica Skelly in the 51st minutes tied the match at 1-1.  Skelly led the Big Red with five shots, while goalie Andrea Karl made six saves in 110 minutes.

Sophomore transfer Logan Berlet leads the Big Red offense with 15 points on six goals and three assists.  Senior Jocelyn Festle also has six goals and 13 points, while sophomore Andrea Witte boasts a league-leading seven assists.  Karl, a two-time Academic All-American and three-time Academic All-District selection, has an NCAC leading six shutouts in 18 starts between the pipes.  She's also carrying a 1.02 goals-against average and a .779 save percentage in 1,673 minutes.

In the other NCAC semifinal match, top-seeded Allegheny will host fourth-seeded DePauw at 2 p.m. in Meadville, Pa.  On Oct. 26, the Gators dropped a 2-1 decision at home to the Tigers.  The winner of the two semifinal matches will face off on Saturday (Nov. 9) on the home field of the highest remaining seed.

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