The top-ranked Messiah College soccer team scored in the 70th minute to edge William Smith 1-0 in an NCAA Division III Women’s Soccer Championship semifinal played today at Blossom Soccer Stadium.
William Smith, who was making its third appearance in the national semifinals in the past four years, finished the season with a 20-1-1 overall record. The 2011 Herons set new William Smith records for wins in a season (20), shutouts in a season (19), and lowest goals against average (0.14). This year’s team also tied the program record for fewest goals allowed (3).
Senior goalie Amanda Davis played all 90 minutes in goal for William Smith this afternoon and finished with five saves. She finished her soccer career tied for first in Heron history with 61 career victories. Davis ranks second all-time with 44 career shutouts. She also sits atop the William Smith list with 20 wins in 2011, and is tied for third in program history with 14 shutouts this fall.
The 10 Heron seniors Chelsea England, Jessie Tarantino, Leslie Carrese, Sarah Tarantino, Alyse DiCenzo, Alexandra Frankel, Jamie Sawyer, Kate Redmond, Leah Shatkin and Davis have led the Herons to an impressive 68-9-12 record in their four years on the team.
The first half was a defensive battle, with a lot of the action taking place in the midfield. The Falcons (22-0-1) had the match’s first real scoring chance with 16:00 left in the half. Corrine Wulf drilled a shot towards the goal that soared just high of the crossbar.
With 12:45 remaining in the opening half, the Herons had an opportunity of their own when they earned a corner kick. Junior Renee Jensen blasted the ball into the box. Jessie Tarantino redirected it with a header, but it went wide of the right post.
The Messiah offense had control of the ball for the final minutes before the break. The Falcons recorded three corner kicks in a span of three minutes, but every attempt was cleared away by the Heron defense. With 3:03 remaining, Erin Hench fired a shot from just inside the box, but Davis was there to come up with the save and preserve the scoreless tie through halftime.
The defensive battle continued in the second half. In the 62nd minute, Hench drilled a shot from just outside of the box and Davis came up with the huge diving save.
With 20:11 remaining Messiah broke though. Alex Brandt put a placed a shot just into the top right corner of the goal that deflected off the crossbar and into the back of the net. Rachel Scheibeler set up the play.
William Smith continued to fight for the game-tying goal. With 16:13 left in regulation, Jessie Tarantino broke through the Falcon defense and fired a shot from right in front of the goal, but Falcon goalie, Autumn Reilly, dove on top of the ball before it could cross over the line and into the goal.
Messiah finished with a 12-1 advantage in shots and an 8-1 lead in corner kicks. Reilly finish made one save in goal for the Falcons.