TERRE HAUTE, IND. -- Senior Nicky Wheeler scored both the opening goal and the game winner to lift the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology women's soccer team to a 2-1 victory at Earlham College and guarantee the Engineers a spot in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament.
Rose-Hulman (10-4-4, 6-2 HCAC) locked up a top-four spot in the regular-season standings with one match remaining, earning a spot in the conference semifinals, set for Nov. 6. The berth marks the first time the Engineers have qualified for the HCAC postseason tournament since 2009.
Wheeler (Avon, Ind./Avon) fired for the match's first score in the 15th minute to give the Engineers an early 1-0 lead. The senior won the ball in the air off a Lucinda Combs (Danville, Ky./Boyle County) punt, then broke away for a one-on-one with Earlham keeper A.J. Johnson, finishing for her sixth-goal of the season.
Earlham's Annie Frodeman would strike back just before the half, netting the equalizer in the 40th minute to knot the game at 1-all.
But in the 76th minute, sophomore Helena Bomber (Bargersville, Ind./Center Grove) delivered a header assist in the middle of the field to Wheeler, who took the ball one touch to her right around an Earlham defender before firing her team-leading seventh goal of the year.
Combs kept the Quakers (2-11-2, 1-6-1) at bay the rest of the way, as the sophomore keeper accounted for a match-high seven saves.
Earlham outshot the Engineers 15-6 for the contest, while both teams recorded five corner kicks each.
Rose-Hulman returns to play for its final regular-season home match when it hosts Manchester for a 1 p.m contest Saturday at the Intramural Field, which also marks the Engineers' senior day.
The top two seeds in the final regular-season standings will host Nov. 6 semifinal matches for the HCAC Tournament, with the championship to be held Nov. 9 at the site of the best remaining seed.