by Josh Decker
The Cedarville women’s soccer team rounded out a successful season with an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament before ultimately falling just short to No. 1 Grand Valley State by a score of 2-1 in the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional.
The Lady Jackets finished the 2021 season with an overall 12-6-2 record, including a sparkling 11-2-1 in G-MAC conference play.
Entering the year, Cedarville was picked fourth in the G-MAC Preseason Coaches Poll, but with a talented returning squad, the Lady Jackets knew it could be a special season.
Among those returning was junior Mary Kate Wyer, who was tied for the team’s leading goal-scorer a year ago with five goals.
“I knew coming into this season we had what it took to make the NCAA tournament,” said Wyer. “Especially returning with a lot of players from the spring season and then adding an amazing freshmen class.”
The Lady Jackets got forward Olivia Hoffman back from injury part way through the season and then Cedarville got on a hot-streak late in the season and went on a five-game winning streak to end the regular season.
The Jackets entered the G-MAC conference tournament as the No. 2 seed with a first round bye. Cedarville then played No. 6 Walsh in the semifinals and came away with a hard-fought 1-0 win to advance to the championship.
The G-MAC tournament championship game featured the No. 2 Lady Jackets facing off against No. 1 Ashland. Cedarville played well and battled hard, but fell 2-1 in overtime.
The season was not over for the Lady Jackets, however, as Cedarville was picked for an at-large bid in the NCAA Division II tournament.
Even though the Jackets dropped the game against No. 1 Grand Valley State 2-1, it was an extremely tight and even matchup as Cedarville held the lead for much of the game before GVSU equalized and eventually scored the game-winner in overtime.
The Lady Jackets were led offensively this season by Mary Kate Wyer and freshman Addie Erslan, who finished with five goals each. Seniors Aleah Martone, Mackenzie Northcutt, and Hannah Sareyka, as well as freshman Audrey Nelson, each contributed three goals on the year.
“I think the season went very well,” said Wyer. “Not even just from a soccer standpoint- we have a really close team and I was proud of how we continued to fight through every game and give the glory to God.”
Looking ahead to next season, Cedarville will return a quality group of players, including Olivia Hoffman, who missed all of last season with an injury and is taking advantage of an extra year of eligibility. The Lady Jackets will also return their top two scorers from this season in addition to starting goalkeeper Brooke Ackley, though Cedarville will lose several key players, including Mackenzie Northcutt.
“My favorite part of the team was growing in my relationships with my teammates and with God,” said Northcutt, reflecting on her time with the program. “One of my favorite lessons I learned at Cedarville was how to glorify God through playing sports.”
Josh Decker is a senior Sport Business Management major, and a sports reporter for Cedars. He loves playing sports with friends, and spends much of his free time as a student assistant for the Cedarville men’s basketball team.