The William Smith College soccer team scored in the 31st minute to secure a 1-0 victory over top-ranked and defending national champions Messiah College. It’s the first time in program history that the Herons have defeated the Falcons.
William Smith and Messiah College have now met six times including three national semifinal matchups. The previous two regular season meetings between the Herons and the Falcons resulted in double overtime ties (1-1 in 2012 and 0-0 in 2011).
William Smith improves to 2-1-0 this season, while Messiah falls to 2-2-0. It’s the first time the Falcons have lost back-to-back matches since 1999 when Messiah dropped consecutive decisions to Johns Hopkins 1-0 and Richard Stockton 2-1.
The Herons came out strong in the first half, possessing the ball for the majority. Although, the Falcons had their best scoring chance early. A little over five minutes in Nikki Elsaesser broke through for a one-on-one with William Smith goalie senior Chelsea Dunay. Elsaesser’s shot went inches wide of the post.
The Herons almost broke through in the 15th minute. Junior Krista Longo beat her Falcon defender and carried the ball into the box. Her shot was blocked by another Messiah defender and deflected out of bounds, earning William Smith its first corner of the match.
In the 31st minute, junior MaryClaire Pelletier carried the ball into the box and was fighting to get around two Messiah defenders. She earned the Herons their second corner of the match. First-year Emma Diehl lofted the ball into the box, finding sophomore Zoe Eth, who redirected it into the goal with a header. It was Eth’s first goal this season and Diehl’s first collegiate point.
In the second half, the Falcons held more of the momentum, but the Heron defense held its own. Messiah came close to tying things up in the 58th minute. The Falcons were awarded a free kick just outside of the box and Alicia Frey drilled a hard shot on cage, but Dunay was there to make the save and keep William Smith on top. She finished with five saves to earn her first shutout of the season.
Messiah held an 11-5 advantage in total shots, but a 5-3 lead in shots on goal. The Falcons earned five corners, while the Herons had three. Audra Larson played all 90 minutes in goal for Messiah and earned three saves.
William Smith will be back in action on Saturday, Sept. 14, when it hosts No. 24 Rochester in the first match of the 2013 Upstate Collegiate Cup at 11 a.m. The Falcons will travel to take on the University of Mary Washington on Wednesday, Sept. 11 at 4:30 p.m.