Another week in Division III soccer brought about another grouping of solid matchups. In some parts of the country, conference play has already begun. In others - namely a fantastic meeting of minds in St. Louis - teams are cleaning up nonconference play and adding feathers to the resume for ranking purposes.
Let's take a look at some of the hot stories from the week that was in Division III.
No. 1 Wheaton (Ill.) women hold the line against No. 3 Washington (Mo.) in OT
This was the matchup the Division III soccer world couldn't wait to watch. Wheaton (Ill.) and Washington (Mo.) carried matching 6-0-0 records into this Saturday contest in St. Louis, and a spot at the top of the rankings was clearly at stake. Despite the fact that Washington (Mo.) had been on an irrepressible shutout streak in its first six, Wheaton exited the encounter with its No. 1 ranking intact thanks to a bruising display. The game was fittingly tight through a scoreless regulation, with Washington barely owning the shots battle 16-15. That paved the way for overtime, and the visitors made it count. Senior Leah DeMoss created some space and found the upper right corner 8:09 into the first OT. The goal not only gave Wheaton a huge road win, but it also cemented the Thunder as the undisputed No. 1 in the nation.
As the Messiah women have proven - they've dropped out of the top 10 after starting the season No. 1 - just being the defending national champion is no guarantee of success. So the Falcons aren't taking their 8-0-0 start for granted. And one of those wins came in overtime while two more were decided by just one goal. Still, Messiah rolls on. That included a tantalizing matchup with previously unbeaten Montclair State on a rain-soaked Shoemaker Field. Jeremy Payne got Messiah off to a flyer with a goal in the ninth minute, while Joshua Wood added his first of two goals on the day just minutes later. Wood scored again in the second half, and Messiah held the No. 7 scoring offense in the country to a season-low nine shots. Montclair State had been averaging four goals a game. Messiah's power grab continues.
Emory women continue its season renaissance
We've been tracking Emory with interest ever since the Eagles' lackluster start to the season. The former national runners-up started the season 2-2-1, but since Sept. 15 Emory has reeled off three wins in a row and climbed back into the top 10. Emory dropped a one-loss Berry team on Sunday to keep its train rolling and post its second consecutive 2-0 shutout. Goals from Lauren Gorodetsky and freshman Cristina Ramirez cemented a dominant display from Emory, which turned itself into a national title dark horse with its start to the season. With its current run of form in the bag, Emory's sprint up the national rankings could augur another big postseason run. If anything's for certain, it's that nobody wants to face Emory right now.
Forget for a moment that Williams was No. 17 in the country last week. This was a team that at one point was in the top five and has the talent to back up that assessment. So For Amherst to run through the Ephs with a dramatic double-overtime winner was big news. Incredibly, Amherst hasn't lost in the run of play in 26 games, with the only loss in that span coming in penalty kicks in last year's NCAA tournament. With the game up for grabs and time almost out, Amherst's Mike Fikke scored with a mere 4:31 left before the game ended. The game was doubly important for the Jeffs because it strengthened their conference title aspirations considerable. They're now sitting pretty at 5-0-1 overall and 2-0-1 in the NESCAC through three games. If someone is going to knock Amherst off its perch for the first time since last year, they'll have to get through their impenetrable wall at the back first.
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