By RICK PETERSON
The majority of college coaches and athletes go through their entire career without making it to a final four.
But it's always a goal, and it's something Davy Phillips has made a habit of and that his Washburn University women's soccer team will get an opportunity to experience this week in Matthews, N.C.
After punching their ticket to the final four for the first time in program history with Sunday's 1-0 win over Grand Valley State, the 20-3-1 Ichabods will face Adelphi University (15-3-5) at 1 p.m. on Thursday in a national semifinal. With a win WU will play for the national title at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
"At the beginning of the year you kind of look at some really lofty goals and some really attainable goals and I think that final four and national championship is one of the loftier goals no doubt, but it's a possibility,'' Phillips said.
"Six years ago in the interview process I told them my goal was to win the national championship. I've been really close. At my previous school (Baker University) I was in the final four three times, so it's not expected but it's something we've worked for and it's certainly a career goal of mine, definitely.''
Facing a brutal wind in Sunday's national quarterfinal, Washburn kept the game scoreless until freshman Grace Peterson scored the game-winning goal, the first goal of her collegiate career, in the 81st minute and WU star senior goalkeeper Raegan Wells and the Ichabod defense did the rest, preserving the 1-0 win.
"The wind was pretty intense and we were against the wind the first half, so it was, 'Can we defend, defend, defend and get to halftime?' '' Phillips said. "Then at halftime we just talked, 'OK, now it's our turn to really go at them,' and I thought we were the better team in the second half.''
Sunday's win was another nail-biter in the Ichabods' four-game postseason run to the national final four, with all four games being decided by a single goal, including two overtime wins.
"There's a tremendous amount of belief in this group right now and that's really hard to deal with for the opposition, when you truly believe in something,'' Phillips said. "The girls' work rate I think reflects that. Without question, those wins, when they start accumulating, you find belief in what works and you gain confidence from that.''
Phillips said the Ichabods' celebration after Sunday's win was something he'll never forget.
"That's what I'm in it for, seriously,'' Phillips said. "I get emotional, just seeing how ecstatic and thrilled they are, and it's a career goal for all of them is you want to go win the national championship, get to the final four.
"And to see some of those career goals get realized, it's an incredible feeling as a coach.''
By Sunday night most every member of Washburn's coaching staff and administration as well as numerous former players had reached out to congratulate the Ichabods on their historic achievement.
"It's Bods supporting Bods,'' Phillips said. "It's an incredible University, it's an incredible staff and I think the most incredible thing about it is we are truly happy for each other's success. There's no jealousy.
"We are in it for each other and I think we all recognize that the better we all do it helps our own programs because we can sell the university. We love it, appreciate it. You can feel it and it's an incredible place to work and go to school.''
Now Phillips' Ichabods will take aim on an even loftier goal -- a national championship.
"What we told the team is that all four of these teams are going to be really good, including us,'' Phillips said. "They truly believe they can win the national championship and that's really important.
"You've got to believe that if you're going into it, but we also understand that the only thing that matters is the game in front of us, so we've got to really concentrate on Thursday and what that looks like and be ready for Thursday, but knowing that this group is capable is wind in the sails.''
The Ichabods' semifinal match will be played at the Matthews Sportsplex against Adelphi University, the No. 2 seed in the East Region.
Washburn is the No. 3 final four seed while the Panthers are the No. 2 seed.
No. 1 seed Florida Tech will face No. 4 Point Loma in Thursday's first semifinal at 10 a.m.