BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Returning to action for the first time in more than 10 days, the Illinois Wesleyan University shook off a shaky start to earn a gritty 20-14 win over Hope College Wednesday night, March 22.
The Titan attack benefited from a balanced scoring tally, led by a seven-point showing from senior Connor Kiichle (Vancouver, Wash.-Skyview). He tied junior Trystan Seeley (Castle Rock, Colo.-Castle View) for the team lead with five goals, while both he and Carson Kiichle (Vancouver, Wash.-Skyview) were credited with two assists apiece.
Junior Gage Black (Peoria, Ill.-Dunlap) scored four goals, with Carson Kiichle and junior Ike Eastburn (Colorado Springs, Colo.-Cheyenne Mountain) tallying two each.
Junior Alex Oximana (Seattle, Wash.-Bishop Blanchet) was exceptional in between the posts. Entering in the second half, Oximana finished with eight saves with five goals against, good for a .615 save percentage. Oximana split time with sophomore Colin Tervo (West Linn, Ore.-West Linn), who made seven saves over the first half.
Sophomore Nick Schroeder (Waunakee, Wis.-Waunakee) owned the X, going 24-for-29 on the night with a game-high 16 ground balls. Sophomore Nick Horrocks (Boulder, Colo.-Fairview) aided the defensive showing with a team-high three caused turnovers, while junior Michael Campagna (Arlington Heights, Ill.-St. Viator) added two.
Hope jumped out to a 4-2 lead as the Flying Dutchmen capitalized on an IWU turnover to take a two-goal lead in the early goings.
The Titans rallied back to even the score as Black got the Green and White back on track. Sophomore Jake Gisi (Wentzville, Mo.-Chaminade College Prep) scooped up a ground ball off the ensuing faceoff and fed Eastburn for a quick strike to level the score.
Junior Bob Boone (San Diego, Calif.-Notre Dame) fired a shot high into the back of the net before the Kiichle brothers teamed up to end the period with an IWU lead, 7-5.
The second quarter saw Hope battle back to even the score, but another Kiichle brothers connection reclaimed the lead. Seeley joined the party with two goals in the final seven minutes of the period. The second of his scores came with the Titans a man down, but Seeley out-muscled two defenders to bury a shot.
Hope scored once more before the break, before Tervo’s last-second save sent the Green and White to halftime leading, 10-9.
Illinois Wesleyan came out hot in the third, scoring four straight goals to bust the game open. Black net one and Seeley followed with back-to-back strikes. The scoring run was capped by a nifty goal from Black, breaking the game open, 14-9.
Leading 16-11 into the final period, the Titans showed no signs of slowing down as they closed out a 20-14 victory.
Illinois Wesleyan travels to the University of Dubuque Saturday, March 25 for a 1 p.m. non-conference game.