Category Archives: Soccer

Wheaton Men’s Soccer Earns a Split

September 21, 2017

With a victory over Luther College and a close loss to the University of Chicago, the Wheaton Men’s Soccer team looks strong heading into conference play.

The Thunder took on Luther College on Saturday, Sept. 16, when the temperature on the field neared 100 degrees. The teams seemed to be in a feeling-out process for much of the first half, as neither team was able to dial up sustained pressure.

Wheaton finally broke through with 4:53 remaining in the first half, as sophomore midfielder Sean Dunlop set up senior captain Josh Greene for his first goal of the season. In the second half, the level of physical play increased.

The Thunder’s freshman goalie Hasten Biddlecome collided with a Luther player while attempting to play the ball, and was forced to leave with a thigh injury. Wheaton was awarded a penalty kick in the 54th minute, and junior midfielder Andrew Wade converted the opportunity, giving the Thunder a 2-0 lead. Biddlecome then returned shortly after, and was able to complete the shutout.

Tyler Robbins was named CCIW Defensive Player of the Week for his key part in Wheaton’s back-to-back shutouts of Knox and Luther, according to the Wheaton Athletics website.

On Wednesday Sept. 20, the Thunder took the field against the number-one ranked NCAA Division III Men’s Soccer team: the University of Chicago (United Soccer Coaches Poll). Max Lopez scored for U of Chicago 31:54 into the game, a score which held up going into the half. In the second half, the Thunder had their share of chances, as they rang a shot off the crossbar and had multiple shots drift just wide of the post. Ultimately, they were unable to convert any of these chances, and the 1-0 score held up as the final, dropping Wheaton’s record to 3-4 overall. They have yet to begin conference play.

Head Coach Jake DeClute was pleased with his team’s play, despite the result. “The fact that they could hang in a game with that team shows a lot. I think ultimately though, you want to be ruthless to win the game. It can be a little too much of a silver lining that you hung in the game, but I also felt really proud of them. I felt like [we] had them on the ropes, [we] just didn’t deliver the knock-out punch.”

Challenging road trip for Women’s Soccer

September 14, 2017

A quick, two-game trip to Virginia didn’t go well for the Thunder: they lost one game and tied the other. The Thunder participated in the Shellenberger Classic at Lynchburg College over the weekend, where they took on Lynchburg College and Roanoke University.

In the first game, Roanoke scored on a header by Laura Garbarini with 18 seconds left in the first half. The Thunder responded quickly, pulling even 3:21 into the second half, as senior Morgan Whitman scored off a cross by Anna Saunders. Despite outshooting Roanoke 16-2 in the second half, the Thunder were unable to pull ahead, and the game went to overtime tied at 1. That score held up through two periods of overtime and the game ended in a 1-1 draw.

The next day, the Thunder returned to action against Lynchburg who ended the weekend ranked eighth in the nation by d3soccer.com. Once again, the Thunder found themselves trailing at the half, as Lynchburg rushed out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Sarah Hammock (26:21 in) and Kennedy Jakubek (35:09 in). This time, the Thunder were unable to find the equalizer, or even the back of the net, and the 2-0 score held up as the final.

The Thunder had their share of chances throughout the weekend. They outshot Lynchburg 11-9, and Roanoke 31-8 for a whopping total of 42-17 during the weekend. However, they were only able to put one of those shots in the back of the net. This has been a problem for the Thunder thus far this season: They scored on six of their 74 shots (8 percent) while their opponents scored on six of their 34 shots (17 percent). Yet both Wheaton and their opponents have averaged 1.5 goals per game this year.

Head coach Pete Felske was pleased with his team’s play overall, even if the result wasn’t what he wanted. “Considering the travel, the amount of injuries we have and the fact that Lynchburg is — in my opinion — as good as the top five or 10 teams in the country, I liked our effort,” he said.

The Thunder return to action on Friday, as they host Wartburg at 4:30 p.m.

All stats courtesy Wheaton Athletics.

Overcoming obstacles and opponents

September 7, 2017

This weekend, the Wheaton Men’s Soccer team beat St. Olaf College (Minn.) on Friday Sept. 1, but lost to Loras College on Saturday, Sept. 2.

The first game was a big stepping stone for the Thunder, according to Head Coach Jake DeClude. “I think just getting to the first game was a huge success for this team after Ethan Roser’s death last spring,” DeClude said. “For these guys to get through this summer and step out onto that field again, that was a really brave moment for all of them and I’m super proud of them.”

According to the Wheaton Athletics website, freshman Hasten Biddlecomb became the first freshman goalie to start the season opener for Thunder since 2008.  Biddlecomb had an impressive game, shutting out St. Olaf on Friday.

Sophomore midfielder Will Woodfin scored the first goal of the game when he kicked the ball into a nearly open net after the ball ricocheted off of the St. Olaf goalie barely a minute into the second half.

“Every single guy on the field and on the sideline was giving it their all for God, and also for the Rosers,” Woodfin said. “We really wanted to make this weekend about Ethan, and I believe we did that even if we did lose.”

Sophomore midfielder Peter Whallon and freshman midfielder Shane Kopplin scored the other two goals of the game. Whallon told The Record, “Our greatest success from the weekend was [that] our team took a step in the right direction.”

The next day, the Thunder faced the Duhawks of Loras College, but lost 2-1 in a close, rainy matchup. “We played a good game and there are a few things we are improving on this week, but Loras is a team that has been to the final four three out of the last five years, so that’s a really difficult opponent,” DeClude said.

Woodfin was the only Thunder player to get a shot past Duhawk goalie Jacob Peterson. Biddlecomb started in goal again and made one save. With seven shots on goal, the Thunder had more than double the opportunities to score.

Both Woodfin and Whallon agreed that The Thunder could beat Loras if they met again by being more physical and sticking to their own game plan instead of playing into the Duhawks’ game plan. .

This upcoming weekend the Wheaton men’s soccer team will travel to Tacoma, Wash. to face the University of Puget Sound on Friday, Sept. 8 at   p.m. PDT and Pacific Lutheran University on Saturday, Sept. 9 at 6 p.m. PDT.

Going into this weekend’s matchups, Declude said that Puget Sound is a good attacking team and are very fluid and technical with their passing game, and Pacific Lutheran should be just as skilled and physical.

“The team is just focused on growing closer together and getting better everyday. Every win is a boost in confidence, every loss is a learning opportunity,” Whallon said.

Women’s Soccer focus is game-to-game

September 7, 2017

Already battling injuries, the Wheaton Women’s Soccer team beat Whitworth University and lost to Loras College on Friday, Sept. 1 and Saturday, Sept. 2.

Head Coach Pete Felske said, “We’re just trying to fight through some games here at the beginning of the year and not suffer any more tough situations injury-wise.”

Against Whitworth, the Thunder scored four times and senior goalie Kathryn McGregor allowed the Pirates to only score once, according to the Wheaton Athletics website.

“I thought it was a good game up and down the line from our starts to our reserves,” Felske said. “We played and moved the ball well. It was good to see some goals scored.” Junior forward Chelsea Gnan scored a hat trick in the game and the other goal was a successful penalty kick shot by freshman forward Izzy McNally around the 43-minute mark. McNally is one of ten freshman on the roster, and Felske said that they start two or three each game.

Loras College beat Wheaton on Saturday with a final score of 2-1. “They executed what they do well better than the way we executed what we do well,” Felske said. “They were bigger, stronger and more aggressive.” By scoring the first goal of the game two minutes into the second half, the Duhawks — who have 14 seniors on their roster — played with overwhelming confidence, according to Felske. Sophomore Audrey Jensen scored Wheaton’s only goal of the game off of a corner kick by junior midfielder Anna Saunders.

“If or when we enjoy success this year, it will be because of numbers and depth, not because there are one or two players carrying the team,” Felske said. With four seniors on the team and one All-Regional player in junior midfielder Madison Pebbles, Felske knows that his team does not include a superstar All-American at the moment.

“We’ve had great teams that have been very successful and we’ve had great teams that have had two or three All-Americans on it as well,” Felske said. “This team does not have that, so we’ll have to rely on everyone doing their job, playing their role to the best of their abilities and hopefully getting healthy.”

This weekend the Thunder Women’s Soccer team will travel to Virginia to face Roanoke College on Friday, Sept. 8 at 5 p.m. and Lynchburg College on Saturday, Sept. 9 at 7:30 p.m. According to Felske, this is Wheaton’s first time facing both Roanoke and Lynchburg, the latter of which  has been consistently nationally ranked.

Women’s Soccer Anticipates Strong Season

August 24, 2017

Coming into the season, the Wheaton Women’s Soccer team aims to improve on last year’s record.

After finishing with a 12-8-0 record, the Thunder lost 2-1 to Illinois Wesleyan in the conference championships. The  Titans moved on to the NCAA DIII Women’s Soccer Tournament, marking the first year that the Thunder had not gone to the tournament in 19 consecutive years. In the CCIW preseason poll, Wheaton was picked to finish first with 61 points and five first-place votes. Illinois Wesleyan was picked second with 56 points and two first-place votes.

When asked about the upcoming season, head coach Pete Felske commented, “We will be better than last year in every area of the field, so I hope that translates into more wins.”

In addition to the Thunder’s influx of new talent, many of last season’s stars are returning..

Senior Kathryn McGregor will be returning as the Thunder’s starting goalie. Last season, McGregor played in all of the Thunder’s matches,averaging 1.08 goals against and achieving seven shutouts. Freshman Madison Lee will join McGregor this season. Felske observed that Lee “may come in with a better goalkeeping history, training and technical ability [than McGregor]” He predicts that the competition at goalie this year will be fierce between the two players.

On defense, senior Hannah Hodge and juniors Anne Jekel, Ruth Ellen Bailey and Molly Thorson  are returning for the Thunder. Hodge will be a team captain for the 2017 season. Thorson started in 19 matches last year and earned First Team All-CCIW recognition for her efforts on defense. In addition to some stellar returning players, the back line is receiving fresh feet in freshmen Izzy McNally, Sarah Tomich, Emma Strong and Sophie Stradinger.

Moving up the field, Felske comments that, “The midfield is an area we are really excited about.” Standing out among the veteran Thunder players is junior Madison Peebles. After starting in every 2016 match, she earned All CCIW and NSCAA All-Central Region recognitions. Junior Anna Saunders, last year’s offensive player of the year who finished the season with eight assists, is another notable asset.

On the front lines, senior Morgan Whitman is returning as the top scorer for the Thunder last season. She had six goals and two assists. Remarking on Whitman’s playing style, Felske said, “She has good pace and a very strong work ethic. With a few minor tactical changes, more goals should come.” Other scorers for the Thunder forwards last season were junior Chelsea Gnan and sophomore Sarah Gencarella who scored two goals each.

With a strong roster, the team anticipates great flexibility when it comes to crafting their starting line up. The Thunder open up their season with the Bob Baptista Invitational at Bean Stadium next week. Wheaton plays Whitworth University, Sept. 1 at 4:30 p.m., followed by Loras College on Sept. 2 at 4:30 p.m.

Wheaton Men’s Soccer

With the arrival of autumn in Wheaton, the Men’s Soccer team returns to Joe Bean Stadium for another season below the lights on College Ave.

As one of Wheaton’s most heavily attended sports, the Men’s Soccer team will have their work cut out for them with the loss of two seniors on the roster this year. Senior defender Marshall West and senior midfielder Cedric Kamaleson will not be returning to Joe Bean Stadium, adding to the already significant number of graduates from last year’s team that will require the underclassmen on the team to step up.

Third year Head Coach Jake Declute is coming off a solid season and continues to boast an impressive home record. This year the team hopes to utilize some young talent and develop new, exciting players in order to top last year’s .500 win percentage, unleashing juniors Elliot Paul and Andrew Wade on the pitch for a scoring frenzy.

Sophomore midfielder Jack Stradinger said, “All of us worked very hard in the off season.”

The soccer team also begins this season with solemn hearts after last year’s tragic hammer throw incident in which Ethan Roser passed away. Rarely must a team rally from such a difficult “season” as the spring of 2017, but the Thunder do not struggle alone, but with the help Christ’s love and mercy.

The campus rallied around the team to grant profound support and love last spring, and this fall they will begin pushing toward their goal to be CCIW champs.

Stradinger said, “Our [the team’s] greatest strength is that we are not a team, we are a family.”

The Thunder begin the season with the Bob Baptista invitational at home on Sept. 1 against St. Olaf College, and Joe Bean Stadium is expected to be overflowing as always with new freshmen and upperclassmen alike.

God is the goal

I walk into my house and it’s cold — silence, colder than shouting. I go into the kitchen and see my mom working on her computer. “Hey mom.” A quick glance up, a sharp “Hi,” then silence. At least she’s home, I think. The next day, it wasn’t silence. It was critique. It was a label. It was a jab that added another layer to the growing glacier over my heart. Where did my mom go? The one who was loving and caring, who comforted me, who treasured time with me.

Instead of feeling the hurt, I just played. When my mom was hard and cold, when my dad was working all the time, when my parents’ marriage was crumbling, playing soccer was my escape. I’d bike to the closest field and juggle, kick and sprint. I would do anything to put my mind on what I could understand, what I was good at, a language I loved. Soccer became my refuge from a house that contained a broken marriage and hard hearts. At the same time, being a good soccer player became my identity, the thing that told me I had value when I felt unloved and forgotten.

But by mid-high school I felt burnt out. Because I was seeking my value in soccer, I beat myself up over any little mistake. The same place I ran to in order to escape feelings of hurt left me feeling even more insecure and insignificant. Playing soccer became completely about filling my own needs and satisfying my pride, but it always fell short and ended up tearing me down. At the same time, my relationship with my parents and their relationship with each other only got worse. The combination left me feeling bitter and alone.

Thankfully, God graciously stretched out his arms and embraced my brokenness. God convicted me and my siblings to pray for my parents’ struggling marriage and my mom’s hardened heart every day. God continually called me back to him and gave me faith to trust that he could break through my reality and bring restoration and healing to my family. As I prayed, God taught me grace and began to replace bitterness towards my mom with forgiveness. As he enabled me to forgive, my world started changing.  I learned to extend grace and forgive my mom, and God showed me that he, too, extended unfathomable grace to me that defined me as worthy and loved and significant to him. A daughter loved by the King became my new, God-given identity and God became my constant refuge amidst a battling family.

However, I still struggled with integrating my identity into a God-honoring mindset with soccer. I had more confidence when I was playing, but soccer was still a place where I practiced selfishness; and it was lifeless.

Going into freshman year of college, I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to play. At the same time, it was hard to let go of something I was good at and something I used to love so deeply. During this time, my parents’ marriage was transforming, along with my own relationships with both of them. I was overwhelmed by God’s grace in my family, yet felt depleted of God’s presence in soccer. By the end of freshman season, I wanted to quit. I didn’t care if I was doing well on the outside. It was not enough, and I was mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted.

However, throughout freshman year, God broke down my remaining misconceptions of who he is and of how he views me. Through continued redemption of my family and an ever-deepening understanding of his grace, God turned my idea of soccer on its head and taught me to acknowledge him in it. The culmination of this occurred last summer during a sports ministry program called Chicago Eagles. Over this time, God emptied me of pride and fixed my eyes on him, his glory and his purposes. It was spent by running soccer camps and sharing the gospel and awesome power of my Savior Jesus with younger kids and opponents, alike. I was constantly on my knees praying for Jesus to help me keep moving, to speak through me, to give me self-control, to help me love my teammates, to manifest his power and to show his love in me in ways beyond my capabilities. By the end of the summer, I was prostrate before the King, humbled and awe-filled because of who he is, who he calls me and the gift of playing soccer he gave me. Dependent on Jesus and solidified in my identity as a daughter of the King, I was so excited to come back to school for a sophomore season of soccer focused on glorifying him rather than myself.

Sophomore soccer season had many ups and downs and a lot of learning, but was steadied by a constant line of redemption. Each time I took the field with my team, I was overwhelmed by the grace God has given me to let me play a game I love. I played without thinking, without worrying, and God continued to use soccer to refresh me and teach me to glorify him and to love my teammates and opponents well. There was still temptation to focus on myself and sometimes I messed up, but God showed me that his grace marks every aspect of my life. He showed me that his redemption breaks through every part of my story, that he is able to resurrect my family, my identity and my sport in a way that has multiplying effects for his kingdom and his glory. Now I get to continue asking God to open up my eyes, that I may see how he is working and the dead things he desires to bring to life.

Offensive outburst for women’s soccer

The cast of “The Wizard of Oz,” the Fruit of the Loom logo, Harambe and his fans and all the characters from “Scooby Doo.” After spending this past weekend celebrating Halloween with their annual costume contest, the Wheaton women’s soccer team got down to business during their past two games as they scored 10 goals in two days.

This past Saturday, after winning the CCIW regular season for the 18th time in the school’s history and first since 2014, Wheaton scored a season-high six goals in a 6-3 win over Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. Five minutes into the game, sophomore midfielder Anna Saunders curved the ball into the side netting off a corner kick to start the scoring for the Thunder. After Kenyon tied the score in the 19th minute, junior forward Morgan Whitman answered for Wheaton in the 32nd minute and then again 53rd minute with a Kenyon goal sandwiched in between, putting the score at 3-2.

The floodgates continued to open for Wheaton as sophomore midfielder Hannah Cockrum, senior forward Sarah Frey and freshman forward Autumn Rasmussen all added goals as the game finished off Kenyon by a score of 6-3.

The Thunder began their postseason CCIW run last night against North Central on their home turf at Joe Bean Stadium. In the 14th minute, sophomore Madison Peebles started the scoring barrage with a header on an assist from junior Anna Saunders. Six minutes later, junior Sarah Van Wingerden scored as the Thunder went into halftime with a 2-0 lead.

In the second half, the women continued to battle and held North Central scoreless. Senior Kathryn McGregor recorded her seventh shutout of the season with five saves in the game. Rasmussen scored in the 80th minute and sophomore Sammy Nishiyama scored in the 84th to officially seal the deal and send the Thunder on to the CCIW championship.

The Thunder will have the benefit of an extra day of rest since the other CCIW tournament matchup between Illinois Wesleyan and Carroll was postponed until Thursday, Nov. 3. Wheaton will take on the winner on Saturday at Joe Bean Stadium.

Thunder peaking at the right time

Reaching the playoffs in any sport puts players in a “win and move on, lose and go home” mentality. The Wheaton men’s soccer team, however, has had to utilize this mentality earlier than normal this season.

As the Thunder competed in conference play this year, they found themselves in many must-win scenarios. In these games, if they win, they will continue their push for the conference playoffs and possible contention for the NCAA tournament; if they lose, they continue the season knowing the playoffs are officials out of reach.

“It is very important for us to bond not only on the field, but also off the field,” senior defender Ben Bakke explained. “When times were tough our coach encouraged us to stay focused on the details of the game, but to also enjoy the guys on the team and have fun with each other.”

The mentality of which Bakke spoke has certainly propelled the Thunder as they continue to push through the adversity.

This past Saturday, the Thunder went head-to-head against neighboring town rival North Central College. As the Thunder headed into this must-win game they found themselves down early 1-0 in the first 15 minutes of the game. As the Thunder pushed for an equalizer, senior forward Max Carey took over the Wheaton’s offense and buried a goal five minutes before halftime.

Carey carried Wheaton’s momentum into the second half as he scored his second goal of the match in the first minute of play and put Wheaton up 2-1. As if that wasn’t enough for the forward, Carey completed a hat trick as he scored 12 minutes later to further advance the Thunder’s lead. As the game continued, the Thunder looked for an extra cushion in this crucial game as senior forward Josh Greene capitalized off a loose ball in front of North Central’s goals. The game finished with a 4-2 victory for Wheaton.

The Thunder continued with this mentality as they took on Millikin in their final home game of the season last night. The rain and fog settled as the Thunder seniors took the field for their last regular season game. Wheaton scored early and often as Carey shifted through the Millikin defense and assisted freshman midfielder Will Woodfin up for a goal less than eight minutes into play. Senior defender Noah Gulley then finished a loose ball off of a Thunder corner kick to advance the Thunder’s lead to two goals just before halftime.

As play continued after the half, Wheaton earned a penalty kick that Bakke blasted into the top left corner of the goal. Finally, junior defender Drew Shay scored a goal in the final 43 seconds of the game to give Wheaton a 4-0 win.

The Thunder now have a chance to win the CCIW tournament and advance to the NCAA tournament. When asked what this comeback means to him and the rest of the team, Bakke said, “This is the position I was hoping to be in, and that the whole team was hoping to be in too. This is all we could have asked for.”

The men will continue into conference playoffs next Wednesday, November 2nd as they travel into Chicago to take on North Park in the first round of the CCIW tournament.

Thunder continue to impress in CCIW play

The Thunder women’s soccer team tied their longest streak of the season with five wins over the past few weeks. Amidst this streak, the Thunder continued their winning ways with two shutouts on Saturday at North Central College and Wednesday against Millikin University. The Thunder emerged victorious in both by scores of 2-0. Overall, Wheaton’s CCIW winning streak has included four shutouts.

Wheaton has been on both sides of these results this year, though. Earlier this season the Thunder suffered a five-game losing streak just before entering conference play. After a difficult home loss to the University of Chicago, many fans were ready to label 2016 a rebuilding year and look to next fall, but the women had another story in mind.

When asked about how the team turned the season around after a 1-6 start, junior midfielder Sarah Van Wingerden explained, “The girls have been willing to work, and we have worked hard to get back into this season. Along the way, we’ve been having a lot of fun and that just helps you work even harder and win even more games when you’re enjoying what you do.”

The team has been led defensively by senior goalkeeper Kathryn McGregor and senior defender Mary Pettit who was named CCIW Defender of the Week over the last five games. Offensively, goals have been coming from all over the roster. Van Wingerden has played an active role on the offensive front, as well, after moving from midfield to forward. She has a goal and two assists in the last three games.

Junior forward Morgan Whitman also turned up her offensive output with a goal in each of the last four games and one assist. Freshman forwards Sarah Gencarella and Autumn Rasmussen, sophomore midfielders Madison Peebles and Anna Saunders and sophomore forward Chelsea Gnan have also made impacts offensively over the five-game win streak and look to carry the momentum into the CCIW tournament.

With only one game left this season, the Thunder are 10-7 overall and first in the CCIW with an in-conference record of 6-1, giving up only four goals to CCIW opponents all season. The team will travel to Gambier, Ohio, this Saturday to battle Kenyon College in the finale of their roller coaster season.