Titans clinch conference

Jacob Link, Staff Writer

Coming off a 4-1 win against UW-Whitewater on Oct. 20, the UW Oshkosh women’s soccer team followed up with a win that clinched first place in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC).

Entering the game on Saturday on a five-game win streak, UWO looked to clinch the WIAC title against UW-La Crosse. UWO and UWL were both tied for first in the WIAC, as each team had a 5-0 conference record.

The first half was evenly matched with neither team gaining any momentum. UWL outshot UWO 5-4 in the first half as it finished 0-0. But the Titans came out flying in the second half, scoring in the 64th minute to go up 1-0. Sophomore forward Rylie Kaufmann swung the ball in from a corner kick and found defender Mackenzie Bennett who headed the ball into the back of the net. This was only Bennett’s second goal in the season. Less than 5 minutes later, the Titans scored again in the 69th minute. Kaufmann launched a beautiful ball that curled into the top corner, out of reach of the Eagles goalkeeper. Kaufmann’s seventh goal of the season put the Titans on top 2-0.

Courtesy of UWO Athletics

Kaufmann said after the game: “I was so happy after scoring my goal. As a team we were working so hard to get those goals and it felt great to put the ball in the back of the net.”

Kaufman said she was relieved to have the Titans winning 2-0 at the point, but she knew the game was not over and that they needed to put in a full 90 minutes if they were to take the win.

UWL pulled to within one in the 77th minute with a goal from Ellie Arndt off a cross from team captain Sophie Amundson. UWO played tough defense in the final stages as they hung on to win 2-1. UWL outshot the Titans 19-9, but goalkeeper Erin Toomey came up big for UWO with eight saves on nine shots on goal.

UWO improved to 13-2-1 (6-0 WIAC), while La Crosse fell to 12-3-2 (5-1). The regular season title is only the second in UWO women’s soccer history, with the last coming in 2015.

Freshman forward Piper Green said after the game, “it was a huge [win] for our program. Our team does a good job of playing together and not individually. Each and every person on the team contributed to winning the WIAC. We couldn’t have done it without each other!”

The Titans also ended a five-match losing streak to La Crosse and is now 8-0 at home. UW Oshkosh has not lost a game at J.J. Keller field at Titan Stadium since Oct. 9, 2019, when they lost 2-0 against UW-Whitewater. The Titans are also 6-0 in the WIAC for the first time in program history.

“The whole team worked so hard to win conference,” Kaufmann said. “I can say with complete confidence that we all left everything out on the field that night and it was a well-deserved win for us. But we still need to work hard and win this coming Saturday as well.”

The win guaranteed the Titans the No. 1 seed in the WIAC tournament and will give them home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Oshkosh will host their first playoff game on Nov. 4 after securing a first round bye. The winner of the WIAC tournament will gain an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III women’s soccer tournament.

UWO will play their final regular season match against UW-River Falls 5-9-1, (0-4-1) at 2 p.m. Oct. 30 at J.J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium.