What a weekend it was (including Monday) for DWU athletics. The football team rolled in its home opener, the golf keeps keep dominating, the women's soccer team continues to make 2008 its best season ever and the men's soccer and volleyball teams went toe-to-toe with some of the top teams in the NAIA. It's been really fun to be a Tiger fan over the last week.
Saturday's football home opener was the most complete performance by Dakota Wesleyan in my one-plus seasons around the team. Nebraska Wesleyan was essentially ranked No. 26 in the preseason (the first team receiving votes) and the Tigers dismantled them. The game wasn't even as close as the 27-7 score, because DWU could have come up with points on a pair of first-quarter drives as well.
Junior QB Jon Doom looked every bit like a third-year starter Saturday. From my perspective, Doom did it all. He picked apart NWU's secondary all day and made pretty much all the throws you could ask a quarterback to make. He was razor-sharp in the short passing game, and the two times DWU took shots downfield, Doom lofted perfect spirals that hit junior WR Bubba Slaba in stride for a 56-yard gain and a 50-yard touchdown. Tiger fans are fortunate that high school teammates Doom and Slaba decided to bring their aerial attack to DWU.
The Tigers also learned their lesson about turnovers on both sides of the ball. The offense didn't give it to NWU even once, and the DWU defense came up with three big interceptions -- two by Mitchell native Ryan Wagner and one by senior CB Eric Adolph. Adolph's was the back breaker. He jumped a route on the NWU sideline, picked off the pass and raced 40 yards for the Tigers' final TD of the day. Adolph watches as much film as anyone, so I wasn't surprised to see him step in front of that pass like he knew what the play call was.
The TD was a fitting way for the defense to cap off a fine perfromance. They could have been looking at a shutout if it wasn't for a pair of 15-yard penalties, including a questionable, drive-changing facemask on a sack, on the Prairie Wolves' lone scoring drive. There is just so much improvement in the defense from a year ago. It was fun to watch the improvement -- especially in the tackling -- on Saturday.
Look for a better preview of this Saturday's game against Dana later in the week, but if DWU can win on the road this weekend, it will be the first time since the GPAC started that DWU would have a record above .500 in conference play.
After one GPAC Qualifier apeice, the Tiger men's and women's golf teams have a huge lead in the conference standings. The men will try to make a 12-shot advantage stand up over the final three qualifiers, and the women are 18 strokes ahead of the field following Monday's meet in Sioux City. Adam Anderson's program, both genders, are clearly becoming the class of the conference.
It's interesting, becuase golf isn't usually thought of as a team sport, but it's clear that at DWU the Tigers approach each season with a team-first attititude, and it's paying off.
However, that doesn't mean that the golfers aren't doing phenomenal as individuals as well. Mitchell native Nick Gates is tied for the GPAC lead in the men's standings, and the other four Tigers are all in the top 10. Freshman phenom Dani Bellet shot a 76 Monday to take a four-shot lead over the women's field. However, Bellet might have to hold off teammate Kelli Baseley, who is tied for second with an 80 and has already won medalist honors three times this fall. Another Tiger, Heather Love, is in fourth with an 82.
If DWU's teams continue to play to their potential, it might not be a question of whether they win the conference, but by how many strokes, and which Tiger comes out on top individually.
WOMEN'S SOCCER MAKES HISTORY
Congrats to Coach Dale Roden and the Tiger women's soccer team for tying the school record for wins in a season (3) and already scoring the most goals in a season in school history (16). The record-setting goal came in the form of a game-winner Monday afternoon in a 2-1 win at the University of Great Falls. Sophomore Ellie Peterson (MF) scored both goals in the victory and Danielle Richardson earned the win in goal.
While it might seem on the surface like these acheivements aren't that impressive, they really signify a huge leap forward for the program. In just six games the team has already won more games (3-2) and scored more goals (16-9) than it did in 18 games a year ago. It's not just improvement ... it's dramatic improvement, and it really seems like the fourth-year program is really taking flight.
TIGERS IN THE NEWS
Here are some links to DWU stories and news.
Click here to read Daily Republic sports editor Leah Rado's story from Saturday's football game, and click here to read her column about how an actual win was much better than a moral victory on Saturday.
Click here for the story on DWU's performance at the first GPAC Women's Golf Qualifier, and click here to read more about the women's soccer team's win on Monday. Good stuff from both coaches in each story.
Also, this is a must read for Tiger sports fans. Click here to read an opinion piece from The Daily Republic about DWU athletes making a difference in the community. It's great to see that people are taking notice of all the good things our teams are doing, on and off the field.
Volleyball, home vs. Mount Marty, varsity at 7:30 p.m.
Women's soccer at Dordt, 2:30 p.m.
Men's soccer at Dordt, 5 p.m.
Men's golf at Doane
Women's golf at Briar Cliff
Women's golf at Briar Cliff