Saturday: Messiah and Hardin-Simmons face off for the title
|Hardin-Simmons celebrates their shoot-out win over William Smith photo by Ryan Coleman, d3photography.com|
Two semifinal matches and two very different experiences. No. 2 Hardin-Simmons and No. 3 Otterbein fought to a scoreless draw, then the Cowgirls advanced in the shoot-out 4-2. As a contrast, No. 10 William Smith played defending national champ Messiah close through the first half, but then the Falcons ran away, jumping on the Herons 4-0.
William Smith senior BreLynn Nasypany was arguably the best player on the pitch in the women's matches today, but her efforts could not overcome the powerful Messiah defense, a line that only allowed three goals against all season. Meanwhile, the Falcon front three scored on almost every good chance they had, whether their starters or the second line. The number one team in the country looked every part of their top ranked status.
The Hardin-Simmons match against Otterbein featured two great defenses, and a Cowgirl side that is used to scoring. They haven't scored less than two goals in a match all season. But on Saturday, the Cardinals would not allow a goal as their defense and goal keeper Tara Smith stopped all shots. And while the Hardin-Simmons offense pressured in the overtime periods, opportunities were rare. In the shoot-out, one Cardinal played missed a shot, while another had her shot pushed away, while the Cowgirl shots were on target. One of those shots was saved by Smith, but the other four got in to move the Cowgirls onto their first championship match ever.
It will be a tall order to take down a driving Messiah team, but no one can ask for anything better than a No. 1 side versus a No. 2 side for the title.
More to come later.