Lynchburg (Va.) women’s soccer coach Todd Olsen walked underneath a tent late Friday evening and sat behind a makeshift table. Before any reporters could even ask him a question in the postgame news conference, Olsen provided an answer.
“Whew,” he said. “That was ugly.”
Ugly. But effective.
Lynchburg came from behind Friday to defeat Illinois Wesleyan 2-1 in the NCAA Division III women’s soccer semifinals at Swope Soccer Village.
Lynchburg will play Williams (Mass.), which beat Johns Hopkins (Md.) 1-0 in the other semifinal, at 5:30 p.m. Saturday for the national title.
“Really, really good teams sometimes have to win ugly,” Olsen said. “And we did. We didn’t play our soccer.”
Nevertheless, it was just enough to keep an undefeated season alive. Lynchburg, 26-0-1, used goals from Angela Bosco and Kelley Smith to advance to the first championship game in program history.
Even after a rough start.
Illinois Wesleyan, 18-7-1, needed only 19 seconds to hop on the scoreboard, when Skyler Tomko successfully converted a rebound chance.
“That was a rude awakening,” Bosco said. “We tend to come out sometimes, and we’re kind of flat. We weren’t really prepared for that to happen. We had to adjust and keep our composure.”
Lynchburg trailed for only the third time all season, though it didn’t last long. Bosco answered by converting an odd-angled rebound opportunity for her 30th goal of the season, which extended a single-season scoring record.
The strike required precise placement. Smith followed with one of sheer power.
Less than three minutes into the second half, Smith rifled a 20-yard shot across the box into the upper corner of the net, leaving no chance for Illinois Wesleyan keeper Dana Jourdan.
Lynchburg entered the game averaging 27.5 shots per match during its unbeaten run, but it managed only 10 on Friday, when Illinois Wesleyan effectively cut off the outside passing lanes.
“I think this game is a good slap in the face for tomorrow,” Olsen said. “We’re going to play an amazing team tomorrow. It’s going to be phenomenal. We’re going to have to play really, really great to win the game. I think this will give us the boost we might need.”