WSOC: The 2017 Final Four are off to Carolina

The D3 Women’s Soccer Final Four will take to the UNC-Greensboro Stadium field this weekend for a chance to bring home the National Championship hardware.

UChicago will face TCNJ on December 1st at 11:00am, with a match between Hardin-Simmons and Messiah set to kick-off at 1:30pm. The winners will square off at 1:30pm on December 2nd for the National Championship.

How the four teams fared in the round of eight, and some insight on each team are below.


UChicago’s Jenna McKinney (Maroon Athletics/Stephan Bates, WCS Photography photo)

Conference: University Athletic Association
Record: 21-1

Players to watch: Jenna McKinney, UAA MVP; Mia Calamari, All-UAA 1st Team
McKinney leads the team with 11 goals and has tallied four assists, placing her second in the conference in goals scored and third in total points. Calamari picked up First Team All-UAA honors for the second time and ranks second in D3 with 17 assists, which nearly doubles that of any other player in the conference. Calamari has also scored five goals and her 27 points rank second in the conference.

How they got here . . 4-0 win over UW-LaCrosse

CHICAGO – For the fifth time in program history, the University of Chicago women’s soccer team will make a return to the NCAA Semifinals. The Maroons accomplished the feat by beating University of Wisconsin-La Crosse 4-0 on Saturday afternoon in the NCAA Quarterfinals.

No. 3-ranked UChicago improved its season record to 21-1 – the team previously reached the NCAA Final Four in 1996, 2003, 2005 and 2016. The No. 15-ranked Eagles concluded their year at 20-2-3.

With temperatures in the high 30s and winds topping 20 MPH, the two sides battled it out in the rain on the Stagg Field turf. It didn’t take long for the hosts to get on the scoreboard – junior midfielder Jenna McKinney got behind the defense and scored one-on-one with the goalkeeper 12:03 into the match. Sophomore midfielder Hanna Watkins sent the pass that sprung McKinney’s chance.

The lead doubled 15 minutes later. Sophomore midfielder Rachel Dias sent a ball to the far post that was headed in by first-year forward Katie Jasminski.

The Maroons were the continual aggressors all game and held possession effectively despite the wet conditions. Wisconsin-La Crosse experienced the great majority of its success on the counter attack. Four of the Eagles’ eight shots were on frame. However, the goalkeeper duo of sophomore Katie Donovan and first-year Miranda Malone were both up to the task, making two saves apiece.

UChicago’s offense fired off 28 shots in the match, with 13 on goal. An insurance tally was added in the 67th minute to make it 3-0. Watkins’ initial shot was saved, but senior midfielder Kelsey Moore ran onto the rebound and booted it in from point-blank range. The lead ballooned to 4-0 when sophomore midfielder Julia Lodoen scored left footed in the box at the 81:27 mark.

Donovan improved to 18-0 after starting the opening 45 minutes. Malone played the final 45 minutes between the pipes.

Over the course of this postseason, the Maroons have won their four matches by a combined score of 13-0.

UChicago will now travel to Greensboro, N.C. for the NCAA Final Four, hosted at the UNC Greensboro Soccer Stadium on Dec. 1-2.

SOURCE: Maroon Athletics Press Release


TCNJ goalkeeper Nicole DiPasquale (TCNJ Athletics photo)

Conference: New Jersey Athletic Conference
Record: 21-0-1

Players to watch: Nicole DiPasquale, NJAC GK of the Year; Christine Levering, NJAC Offensive POY
DiPasquale was the backbone of a defense that secured 14 shutouts, spending the first 1,099:54 of her career at TCNJ without conceding a goal — the seventh longest streak in NCAA Division III women’s history. Levering was named NJAC Offensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season after ranking second in both conference-only goals and conference-only points and recently became the Lions all-time leader in career points.

How they got here . . 1-1- PK Shootout win over Messiah

Ewing, NJ– The College of New Jersey women’s soccer team (20-0-1) advanced to the NCAA Division III Semifinals on Sunday as they outlasted Messiah College (17-2-4) in penalty kicks.

The Falcons got on the board first in the 24th minute. Lydia Eichorn punched in a header off a corner kick sent in by Skylar Ulry. Eichorn was in a sea of bodies, and out-jumped everybody else to knock in the headed attempt. The Lions then entered unfamiliar territory, as they had only trailed in a game for ten minutes during the entire season. The Messiah defense made it difficult for the Lions high octane offense to break through, as the Lions only registered four shots in the opening period.

The Lions came out of the gate fast in the second period vying for the tying goal. In the 59th minute, the Lions broke through to tie the game up. Jessica Goldman (Belle Mead, NJ/Montgomery) sent in a corner that was deflected in to tie the match up at 1-1.

Both teams had opportunities to net the golden goal in the final thirty minutes. The best came in the 73rd minute, when Messiah’s Brooke Firestone took a shot from eighteen yards out that banged off the right post. The Lions then had their scoring chance denied in the 81st minute. Shots from Goldman and Elizabeth Thoresen (Colts Neck, NJ/Red Bank Catholic) taken inside of the box were blocked. After Goldman sent in another corner, Christine Levering (Robbinsville, NJ/Robbinsville) had a look from fifteen yards out that sailed wide left. Neither side was able to break through in either overtime to set up the dramatic finish.

In penalty kicks, Levering got the Lions ahead as she found the back of the net in the first shot. Nicole DiPasquale (Paramus, NJ/Paramus) came up with a massive save for TCNJ as she denied the first opportunity sent in from the Falcons. Next up, Thoresen’s shot was deflected by the keeper into the back of the net. DiPasquale came through in the clutch yet again for the Lions, and they continued to control the shootout as Kayla Bertolino (Medford, NJ/Shawnee) shot a rocket that went in just underneath the crossbar. After the Falcons finally broke through against DiPasquale, Haley Bodden (Princeton, NJ/Princeton) sealed the deal as she punched it inside of the left post to send the Lions to Greensboro.

TCNJ held the edge in shots 17-8, and in corners 10-4.

The Lions have advance to the national semi-finals 11 prior times in program history, last advancing to the Final Four in 2009. The Lions won national titles in 1993,94, and 2000. This time, they will face Chicago University on December 1st for a chance to play in the National Championship.

SOURCE: TCNJ Athletics Press Release


HSU’s Kenne Kessler (HSU Athletics photo)

Conference: American Southwest Conference
Record: 23-0

Players to watch: Kenne Kessler, ASC Offensive POY; Kirsten Parrish, ASC Defensive POY
Kessler set a new ASC record with 35 goals on the year, while Parrish repeats as the ASC defensive player of the year. She led a Cowgirl defense that allowed just four goals on the year and teams averaged under five shots per game against them.

How they got here . . 1-0 win over Ohio Northern

GENEVA, New York – Hardin-Simmons’ women’s soccer team is headed back to the Final Four for the first time since 2010 after beating Ohio Northern, 1-0, on Sunday afternoon in Geneva, New York.

The Cowgirls used a familiar formula to beat the Polar Bears. It started with a stifling defense and then they found a way to score off a corner kick one more time.

Evan Pipkin’s shot off a corner was blocked but Sarah Krisa found the rebound and hammered it home for a goal in the 63rd minute.

Ohio Northern had more of the run of play in the first half with six shots to just one by the Cowgirls but ONU did not have a shot in the second half as the Cowgirls outshot them 4-0.

Caitlin Christiansen had a pair of saves early for the Cowgirls and that was the only action she saw in net the rest of the game. The defense in front of her a made it hard on ONU.

It was a dramatic week for the Cowgirls, starting with two goals in the final nine minutes for a win over rival Trinity last Sunday. Then a trip all the way to New York, where head coach Marcus Wood spent part of the day Friday in the hospital with a kidney stone. HSU then had to score second-half goals in each game to win both 1-0.

The veteran Cowgirls never flinched and will head to Greensboro, North Carolina for the Final Four. HSU (23-0) will play Williams College (20-1-1) and the University of Chicago (21-1-0) and The College of New Jersey (21-0-1) will play in the other semifinal. The Cowgirls will play at 12:30 central on December 1.

SOURCE: Hardin-Simmons Athletics Press Release


Williams midfielder Natasha Albaneze (Williams Athletics photo)

Conference: New England Small College Athletic Conference
Record: 20-1-1

Players to watch: Danielle Sim, NESCAC Player of the Year; Natasha Albanese, All-NESCAC 1st Team
Sim anchors an Eph defense that has allowed eight goals this season and owns a 0.43 goals against average. Albanese was an All-NESCAC honor for the first time, dishing out a league-best 10 assists and was second on Williams in scoring. Three of her four goals during the regular season were game-winners

How they got here . . 3-0 win over Johns Hopkins

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. – No. 6 Williams women’s soccer (20–1–1, 8–1–1 in the NESCAC) defeated Johns Hopkins (18–3–3, 10–0–0 in the Centennial Conference) 3-0 this afternoon on Cole Field in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA tournament.

With a ticket to the Final Four on the line and over 400 spectators in attendance on a cold, damp and windy Cole Field, the game was passionately contested from the opening kickoff. Play never lacked physicality as it contained some crunching tackles over the course of the 90 minutes.

Early on, both teams took advantage of space on the wings, creating chances by making runs along the touchline and crossing to forwards in the penalty area. Williams defender Sarah Scire ’20 and Johns Hopkins forward Bailey Monaco each saw significant time on the ball in the opening minutes.

The Ephs had an opportunity in the seventh minute. From the left wing, Natasha Albaneze ’18 sent a cross to Natalie Turner-Wyatt ’19, but Turner-Wyatt headed wide from deep in the box.

Turner-Wyatt opened the scoring for Williams in the 17th minute. Tri-captain defender Jacqueline Simeone ’18 put a shot on target from distance, and Blue Jay goalkeeper Bess Kitzmiller deflected the ball off the crossbar. Turner-Wyatt got to the rebound and knocked it into the net, giving the Ephs a 1-0 lead.

Johns Hopkins began to dominate possession late in the half, bringing the Williams defenders under pressure. The Blue Jays attempted to play forwards Riley O’Toole and Michelle Santangelo through with their passes, but Eph defenders Sarah Kelly ’20, Liz Webber ’20 and tri-captain Danielle Sim ’18 made several key tackles and interceptions.

In the 38th minute, Blue Jay midfielder Insa Mannstadt set up forward Maddy Rocks with a dangerous shot inside the penalty area, but Eph goalkeeper Olivia Barnhill made the save following a deflection.

Williams maintained a 1-0 advantage going into halftime, although Johns Hopkins led 9-5 in shots at the break. Barnhill had two saves in the period, while Kitzmiller had one.

The home side threatened in the 53rd minute. Scire beat her defender and sent a cross in from the left wing, but the ball drifted past Albaneze. Georgia Lord ’21 controlled the ball and set up Victoria Laino ’21 with a shot. Laino sent in a low, hard drive, but Kitzmiller saved.

The Ephs doubled their lead in the 54th minute. Scire picked out Turner-Wyatt at the left edge of the box, and Turner-Wyatt slipped a pass through to Albaneze. One-on-one, Albaneze finished calmly into the bottom-right corner.

Albaneze found the net again four minutes later. Turner-Wyatt played a ball to Albaneze at the right edge of the box, and Albaneze lofted a one-time shot over the keeper and inside the far post. Albaneze’s sixth goal in her past five contests put Williams up 3-0.

Johns Hopkins, however, went on the attack and put Williams under duress. In the 64th minute, Blue Jay defender Hallie Horvath’s corner kick bounced to O’Toole, forced a close-range save from Barnhill.

Horvath set up midfielder Carly Lupton-Smith for a chance in the 70th minute. Horvath’s cross connected with Lupton-Smith in the box, and Lupton-Smith sent a shot en route to the bottom-right corner. Eph defender Maddy Feeney ’19, however, was in position to block the attempt.

The visitors earned a penalty kick in the 72nd minute after Monaco was taken down in the box. Santangelo took the spot kick, but her shot missed wide of the post.

Midfielder Maggie Coulson nearly put Johns Hopkins on the board in the 77th minute. Santangelo laid the ball off for Coulson in the box, and Coulson hit a shot that grazed off Barnhill’s fingertips and bounced off the right post.

In the 89th minute, Monaco chased down a long ball, but Barnhill rushed off her line to cut off Monaco’s angle. Midfielder Alexandra Damron had a follow-up shot blocked.

Despite the late attacking surge from the Blue Jays, the game finished 3-0 in the Ephs’ favor. Johns Hopkins finished with a 19-14 edge in shots. Barnhill made a season-high eight saves – six in the second half – and Kitzmiller had six stops.

While the Ephs came away with the victory, Johns Hopkins gave the Williams defenders one of their toughest tests of the season.

“Johns Hopkins brought out a side of us we haven’t really seen yet,” Simeone said. “They were breathing down our backs the entire 90 minutes, and we proved that we can play with pressure and that when we need to sprint back, we can. We were just resilient in those moments.”

“What we proved out there is that our best soccer is when we’re able to string together passes when we can but battle when we have to,” head coach Michelyne Pinard said. “I’m so proud that we were willing and able to commit to both sides of the ball today.

“[The Blue Jays are] the best team we’ve seen, and they put us under a ton of pressure. We were uncomfortable at times, and this was probably the strangest 3-0 game I’ve ever been a part of. We were hanging on, and sometimes you have to get lucky.”

Today’s game marked the 80th win for the senior class of Albaneze, Sim, Simeone, tri-captain Evan Gancedo ’18, Hanna Kaeser ’18 and Kate Sands ’18 – a program record. The current senior class is also the first in school history to have made the NCAA quarterfinals in all four seasons.

“I couldn’t be more proud,” Pinard said. “This senior class began with an end in sight. They saw what this team is capable of, and they worked every day to create this. I’m so proud of them and so happy for them not only for just doing what we’ve done on the field but also the sense of purpose and togetherness they’ve created.”

Pinard feels that the team’s best soccer lies ahead.

“I think we played great, but what I’m most excited about is that I think this team has another level in us,” she said. “We can’t wait to get to North Carolina and show that.”

“The team has just been firing on all cylinders,” Albaneze added. “We’ve been moving dynamically and attacking well. It’s been a team effort, and we’re peaking at the right time.”

“This is definitely a special group,” Simeone said. “We’re a team in all facets of what it takes to comprise this goal and this mission we’ve created. Today was one of the best feelings I’ve ever felt. There are no words to explain how proud of I am of this group of girls … This is the best team I’ve ever played on.”

Advancing to the Final Four for the third time in the last four years, Williams is set to face No. 3 Hardin-Simmons in the NCAA semifinals on Dec. 1 in Greensboro, N.C.

SOURCE: Williams Athletics Press Release


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