By Shane Lydon, Sports Editor
Photos courtesy of aqsaints.com
The Aquinas Women’s soccer team saved their best performance for last to clinch the WHAC title with a deserved 3-0 victory over Madonna at the AQ Athletic Field last Saturday.
Despite finishing runners-up in the conference, UNOH’s defeat to Madonna in the semi-finals meant that Aquinas would host the final as the top ranked team left in the tournament. After losing 1-0 to Madonna in their only defeat in conference play earlier in the campaign, Aquinas knew that nothing short of their best would be enough to clinch the championship for the first time since 2007.
It was clear from the first knockings that this was going to be a performance that would go down in Aquinas folklore.
The home support who braved the bitter cold conditions only had to wait thirteen minutes for the first goal, with Katie Vitella latching onto a delightful through ball by Jenna Smith to send the hosts in front.
Vitella’s was the only goal in a first half, during which Aquinas always looked comfortable. Their resolute defense sniffed out any threats from Madonna’s offense, as they have done to most teams this season.
The Saints picked up where they left off in the second half with Smith being the architect again; this time setting up Hannah Crum, who finished in style to make it 2-0 on 55 minutes.
A tough task for Madonna became mission impossible on 63 minutes when Smith got the goal her performance deserved. This time, right winger, Raegan Radaz delivered the cross which was smashed home by the oncoming Smith.
The final 25 minutes was an exhibition of total control and professionalism from Aquinas with the final whistle being met by joyous scenes from the home players. Captains Kylie Robb, Olivia Borgdorff and Morgan Halligan, key players in maintaining such an incredible defensive record all season, were presented with the WHAC Tournament trophy to top off an exceptional conference campaign.
“Winning the WHAC Championship as a senior feels amazing, it’s like a dream come true” Robb reflected. “I’m so proud of this team and all that we have accomplished and I’m excited to see where the rest of the season takes us!”
As Robb said, the season isn’t over yet. The girls travel to Kentucky to take on Lindsey Wilson College in the first round of the NAIA National Championships on Saturday at noon.
The girls have made their own bit of history already by becoming the first Aquinas Women’s soccer team in history to make it to Nationals and Robb believes if any team can do well down there, this team can. Head Coach Lewis Robinson will be hoping his troops can produce another outstanding performance to keep this season rolling.