Recapping the Run

Recapping the Run

WATERTOWN, Wis. -- A season that began with uncertainty ended with total ecstasy for the Maranatha Women's Soccer Team, as they captured their first-ever NCCAA national championship in emphatic fashion.

A dominant 5-1 win over Randall University in the NCCAA DII National Championship not only etched this team in the Maranatha record books, but it also carved a place in NCCAA history as well - it was the biggest margin of victory in the national championship game in the 19-year history of NCCAA DII Women's Soccer.

The Sabercats worked and sweated all season long, and they were rewarded for their efforts just when it mattered most.

::

RECAPPING THE RUN

For some, the national championship win really started three years ago on a raw afternoon in Iowa. Up 1-0 in the NCCAA North Region Championship, the Sabercats were just 14 seconds away from their sixth straight trip to Florida when their postseason dreams were unceremoniously crushed in the hands of Providence University College. A last-gasp goal from the Pilots wasn't just a prelude to an imminent overtime loss that day, it was the first in a series of miserable postseason defeats for Maranatha Women's Soccer.

For three straight years, the Sabercats' postseason had just one sound to it: the sound of Providence University College celebrating an overtime regional win on the far side of the field.

But the memories of Providence celebrating would sting a little less by the end of 2020. 

It started in the NCCAA North Region Championship when a first-half goal from Taylor Moses lifted the Sabercats to a nervy 1-0 win over Faith Baptist. Maranatha would celebrate the win on their home field, wrapping their plane tickets to Florida in the blue and red trim of the regional banner with their friends and family cheering them on. That win had emotional and practical significance: not only did it secure a berth at the national tournament, but it also meant the Sabercats had finally cleared the North Region hurdle - the hurdle that had left them bruised the last three seasons.

It was all business once the Sabercats took the field at Nationals, as they topped Toccoa Falls College 2-1 in an exciting tournament opener. An early goal from Moses generated belief, and a second-half goal from Alexis Sponable ended up being the game-winner, as the senior sent her team to the one game she had only imagined since her freshman year: the NCCAA National Championship.

Once they took the field in the championship game, the Sabercats' win was inexorable. A three-goal barrage in the span of seven minutes was just a representation of their performance, as the Sabercats upended Randall University 5-1 in the most dominant national-championship performance in the history of the NCCAA DII. Sponable scored two, Moses had the game-winner, Kseniya Hassenplug scored the opener, and senior McKenna Massey stepped up with just three minutes left to bury her first collegiate goal in her last collegiate game.

You couldn't write a better script.

In 2020, the final sounds of the Sabercats' postseason wouldn't come from a group of players at the other end of the field; it would come from their own mouths. The team conquered their postseason fears, and now they would be the ones making the noise in celebration. They would be clutching the banner. They would be national champions.

.

COACH PILL'S PERSPECTIVE

"This team was able to overcome their anxiety about losing in the regional finals and they conquered that fear of failure," said Coach Jeff Pill. "They grew in confidence as the season went on, and it was amazing to see how they overcame some real challenges. All of the players really stepped up and come together to play their best soccer. 

"I think they also grew in their understanding of what it means to be a part of a team and to play their part. They had a really good end to the season by winning the championship but what I was most impressed with was how they improved their play to the point where we could finish with our best effort. We had outstanding leadership by our captains and by players that were significant players but not in that formal position - they put aside some of their personal desires and expectations for the good of the team. It's a really good foundation to build on."

::

OVERVIEW

  • Record: 6-5-1
  • NCCAA Record: 6-1-1
  • NCCAA Finish: National Champions
  • Notable: First national title in program history
  • Notable: First regional title since 2016
  • Notable: Alexis Sponable - broke career scoring record (60 goals) and career points record (130 points)
  • Notable: Three NCCAA 1st-Team All-Americans - a program record for a single season

::

AWARDS

At last week's Athletic Awards Assembly, the Sabercats announced their team awards, which are voted on by the team and are based on the team's CORE BELIEF DOCUMENT. In addition to these honors, the student-athletes earned awards from the National Christian College Athletic Association.

A complete breakdown of the awards is listed below:

CORE BELIEF AWARDS       RECIPIENT
Character Award Gabrielle Torres
Family Award Sarah Bagin
Excellence Award Alexis Sponable
Christlikeness Award Angel Steuerwald   
   
NCCAA All-Region Selections  
Amy Montgomery Alexis Sponable
Taylor Moses Trisha Wright
   
NCCAA All-American 1st Team Selections     
Amy Montgomery Alexis Sponable
Taylor Moses  
   
NCCAA National Player of the Year  
Alexis Sponable  
   
NCCAA National Coach of the Year  
Jeff Pill  
   
NCCAA Scholar-Athletes (JR, SR, GS only)  
Hannah Evans Alexis Sponable
McKenna Massey Angel Steuerwald 
Amy Montgomery Olivia Vander Pluym  
   

::

For more on the program, visit their team page HERE.

Nationals In Sight
January 12, 2021 Nationals In Sight
Breaking New Ground
January 5, 2021 Breaking New Ground
Exceeding Expectations
December 29, 2020 Exceeding Expectations
Recapping the Run
December 17, 2020 Recapping the Run
A Look Back
December 15, 2020 A Look Back
Weekly for Wilkerson
December 14, 2020 Weekly for Wilkerson
More of Morrison
December 7, 2020 More of Morrison
Moses Collects
December 7, 2020 Moses Collects
Pill at the Pinnacle
December 3, 2020 Pill at the Pinnacle
Sponnie at the Summit
December 3, 2020 Sponnie at the Summit
Basketball Games Cancelled
December 1, 2020 Basketball Games Cancelled
AVCA All-Americans
November 24, 2020 AVCA All-Americans
More for Moses
November 23, 2020 More for Moses
Climax Close-Up
November 20, 2020 Climax Close-Up
This Means More
November 19, 2020 This Means More
No Superman
November 18, 2020 No Superman
Thursday Game Postponed
November 18, 2020 Thursday Game Postponed
Rewrite the Script
November 18, 2020 Rewrite the Script
Nationals In Focus
November 18, 2020 Nationals In Focus
Hansel Honored
November 18, 2020 Hansel Honored
More History Made
November 18, 2020 More History Made
Inside Pool A
November 17, 2020 Inside Pool A
Third Shuffle
November 16, 2020 Third Shuffle
Making NCCAA History
November 14, 2020 Making NCCAA History
Second Shuffle
November 13, 2020 Second Shuffle
The Road Ahead
November 13, 2020 The Road Ahead
Success Secrets
November 12, 2020 Success Secrets
Weekend Games Postponed
November 11, 2020 Weekend Games Postponed
Nationals Field Adjusted
November 11, 2020 Nationals Field Adjusted
Back Together
November 9, 2020 Back Together
Reclaim the Fame
November 8, 2020 Reclaim the Fame
Top Seed for the Tournament
November 7, 2020 Top Seed for the Tournament
After Day Two
November 6, 2020 After Day Two
Season-Opener Cancelled
November 5, 2020 Season-Opener Cancelled
After Day One
November 5, 2020 After Day One
Schedule Shuffle
November 5, 2020 Schedule Shuffle
Fopma Flies Ahead
November 3, 2020 Fopma Flies Ahead
Business Still Unfinished
November 2, 2020 Business Still Unfinished
Title Defense: Targeted
November 2, 2020 Title Defense: Targeted
Eligibility Extended
October 29, 2020 Eligibility Extended
Parents' Day Cancelled
October 28, 2020 Parents' Day Cancelled
Three More
October 26, 2020 Three More
Jamboree Jumpstart
October 24, 2020 Jamboree Jumpstart
Regional Faceoff
October 23, 2020 Regional Faceoff
Round-Robin Regional
October 23, 2020 Round-Robin Regional
Men's Soccer Game Postponed
October 22, 2020 Men's Soccer Game Postponed
Traveling Trifecta
October 19, 2020 Traveling Trifecta
Miracle in Muskegon
October 17, 2020 Miracle in Muskegon
Bigtime at Bethel
October 9, 2020 Bigtime at Bethel
Sponnie for Three
October 5, 2020 Sponnie for Three
Sponnie Starts it Off
October 1, 2020 Sponnie Starts it Off
Two for Hansel
September 28, 2020 Two for Hansel
Test Run Ready
September 25, 2020 Test Run Ready
300 for DeLozier
September 23, 2020 300 for DeLozier
Two for the Show
September 14, 2020 Two for the Show
Forward Looks
September 10, 2020 Forward Looks
Eyes on the Prize
September 9, 2020 Eyes on the Prize
Prepared to Prepare
September 3, 2020 Prepared to Prepare
New Look
September 3, 2020 New Look
Nostalgia and "Normality"
August 31, 2020 Nostalgia and "Normality"
COVID-19 FAQs
August 17, 2020 COVID-19 FAQs
Fall Schedule Updates
July 27, 2020 Fall Schedule Updates
Academic Achievements
July 22, 2020 Academic Achievements
A Forward Look
June 24, 2020 A Forward Look
Hosting Hopes
June 19, 2020 Hosting Hopes
Back to Business
June 17, 2020 Back to Business