Top-ranked TCNJ Edge Falcons in Penalty Kicks, Advance to Final Four
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 their fifth Final Four in program history.
TCNJ held the edge in shots 17-8, and in corners 10-4.
The Lions last advanced to the Final Four in 2009. This time, they will face the University of Chicago on December 1st for a chance to play in the National Championship.
The College of New Jersey Sports Information