Sunday, December 8, 2002

Howland comes through in clutch


Her goal nets national title in Div. III soccer

By Ryan Ernst
Cincinnati Enquirer

Residents of a certain Terrace Park home feel different about the sign in their front yard. Clark Howland, the family's patriarch and creator of the sign, calls it a "proud overstatement." His wife, Barbara, calls it "almost embarrassing." The sign boasts their relation to a "2002 National Champion," daughter Erika Howland.

She is a member of the reigning NCAA Division III women's soccer national champion team, Ohio Wesleyan. Her actions are responsible not only for the sign, but also largely for the trophy that sits at Wesleyan's Delaware, Ohio, campus.

Midway through the first half of the title game against Messiah Nov. 30 in Geneva, N.Y., Howland buried a loose ball in the net for a 1-0 win. The goal gave the Bishops their second straight national title and extended their winning streak to 45 games.

"The ball came in off a corner kick, and after a couple people touched it, it was just kind of bouncing around in front of the goal," the Mariemont graduate said. "It came to me and I had a wide-open goal and I just kind of shot it in."

In the tournament quarterfinals, Wesleyan beat St. Thomas (Minn.) 3-2 on penalty kicks, but Howland never got a chance in the extra frame. This time, she took advantage of the scoring opportunity.

"I had the whole left side of the goal to myself, and sometimes you can shank those," she said. "But in games like that, you're so pumped and excited for any opportunity, you're always ready."

And there was Dad. He was ready too, with a cell phone, calling Mrs. Howland, who stayed home with family for Thanksgiving.

"Every 10 minutes he would call. And when he didn't call, my mom was calling him to get updates," Erika Howland said.

Not that this was a new experience for the Howlands. Erika was on last year's national championship team; as a sophomore, she came off the bench. This season she started every game and was the third-leading scorer on a team ranked No. 1 all season.

"We had that day-to-day pressure this year that we didn't have last year," Wesleyan coach Bob Barnes said. "We knew we were going to take every team's best shot. So players needed to step up. Erika was a perfect example of that."

Howland felt that difference as soon as the Bishops arrived at the NCAA Tournament banquet.

"All the other teams were going up and looking at the (NCAA Championship) trophy, but we just went in and sat down," she said. "We'd been there before."

But after her ninth goal of the season sealed the deal, Howland said there was no preparation for what came next.

"The whistle blows and you just say: 'Oh my God. I just won my second national championship,'" she said. "I don't think we've realized the magnitude of (winning) two in a row. I still really haven't come down yet."

But just in case Howland does come down, winter break is right around the corner, and a "proud overstatement" is waiting at home.


Others

Harrison alum and Mount St. Joseph outside hitter Tammi Toney was recently named an to the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division III third-team All-America. third team.

Three Capital football players and Kings alums ni recently made first-team All-Ohio Athletic Conference: Ron Swearingin (first team), Bo Comer (first team) and Justin Dranschak (honorable mention).

Seton grad Jessica Leonard, a volleyball player at Georgetown College, was named a first-team selection in the Mid-South Conference.

University of Chicago football players and local products Joe Polaneczky (McNicholas, wide receiver) and Nate Harrell (Turpin, cornerback) earned all-conference honors in the University Athletic Association as first-team selections.

Princeton grad and Ohio football player Bop White was named to the All-Mid-American Conference second team.

Jill Barre, a Loveland alum and soccer player at Trinity International, was tabbed an All-National Christian College Athletic Association and NAIA all-region selection.

University of Cincinnati tennis player Jen Capuzzi was named Conference USA player of the month for November.

Local products and Wittenberg football players Andy Pope (Lakota East, first team), Jim Lackmeyer (Purcell Marian, first team) and Lloyd Hudson (Sycamore, honorable mention) were named All-North Coast Athletic Conference. first team, first team and honorable mention squads, respectively. Kenyon's Casey McConnell (Summit) was an honorable mention.

Xavier soccer player Tiest Sondaal has been honored as an All-Great Lakes Region second-team selection. UC's Tim Brown was a third-team selection.

Five Miami soccer players also earned All-GLR selections: Danielle Berkemeier (Fairfield, first team), Ashley Swinehart (first team), Andrea Cunningham (McAuley, second team), Shaedyn Cousino (Indian Hill, third team) and Danielle Altiero (third team). UC placed three players on the team: Heather Herweh (Ursuline, first team), Amy Simonson (Princeton, second team) and Tasha Wagner (Middletown, second team).

Bryan Walker, an Indian Hill grad and wide receiver at Centre College, was named to the All-Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference first team.

Sycamore grad and Ashland football player Michael Hull (Sycamore) made the All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference first team. Teammate and Moeller grad Jon Qualls was an honorable mention selection.

E-mail rernst@enquirer.com




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