Women's Semifinal 1 Preview
|Other Semifinal Previews: Semifinal 2||Men's: Semifinal 1 | Semifinal 2|
NCAA Division III Women's Soccer - National Semifinal
Friday, December 2 — 11:00 am CT
William Smith (20-0-1)
How they reached the Final Four
Messiah: Commonwealth Conference champion - AQ | 1st Rnd: W10-0 Elms | 2nd Rnd: W3-0 Skidmore | Sweet 16: W1-0 New Paltz St. | Quarterfinals: W3-1 Amherst
William Smith: Liberty League champion - AQ | 1st Rnd: W6-0 Lancaster Bible | 2nd Rnd: W1-0 Wheaton (Mass.) | Sweet 16: W2-1 Middlebury | Quarterfinals: W4-0 Williams
2011 Statistical Overview
Messiah: 21-0-1 (.977) | 4.23 GSA, 0.18 GAA (+4.05) | Avg. OWP: .617 | Last Ten: 10-0-0
William Smith: 20-0-1 (.976) | 2.29 GSA, 0.10 GAA (+2.19) | Avg. OWP: .614 | Last Ten: 10-0-0
Messiah Season Review
|Senior Erin Hench had two hat tricks in the 2011 post-season Photo by Messiah Athletics|
Can anyone consider a 21-0-1 season a non-event? If that someone is a Messiah fan, then anything less would be a surprise as the Falcons have gone 91-1-4 over the past three years, winning the national championship in 2008 and 2009. In 2011, the Falcon defense allowed only four goals all season; one of those goals was given up in the quarterfinal match against Amherst. Stingy defense and overwhelming offense is one reason why Messiah won their fifth straight MAC Commonwealth Conference championship and have dominated most of their opponents this season. At least all but two. In the Amherst match, the Falcons were outshot for only the second time in 2011, and in the William Smith match, they could not score, resulting in the only blemish on the season with a scoreless draw. The Herons outshot the Falcons 12-11 in that match. Outside of that draw, Messiah played undefeated ball for the balance of the schedule, struggling to score only once in their 1-0 win over the feisty NCAA newcomers from New Paltz State.
Junior Corrine Wulf leads the Messiah scoring attack with 21 goals and 7 assists on the season. Senior Erin Hench grabbed 13 goals and is a strong contributor to her teammates with 13 assists. Junior Alex Brandt rounds out the scoring leaders with 10 goals and 6 assists. On the other end of the pitch, senior Kelsey Gorman plays solid defense, demonstrating team leadership as the only senior on the back line. Senior Autumn Reilly has had only to make 37 saves on the season for her part, resulting in an impressive team-effort .18 goals against average.
William Smith Season Review
|Freshman Dineo Mmutla launches a shot against Middleburry Photo by HWS Athletics|
The Herons have been dominating opponants all season, save for the scoreless draw they booked against Messiah. William Smith hasn't always run up a score, but they have shut down opponents by only allowing two goals in 2011; one in the regular season on a misplayed ball by the Heron keeper against RPI and one in the post-season in a 2-1 over Middlebury.
Freshman Dineo Mmutla leads the scoring column for William Smith with 12 goals and 4 assists, while Whitney Frary has 9 goals with 6 assists. On defense, senior keeper Amanda Davis has only 26 saves all season, demonstrating the effectiveness of the Heron defense. Seniors Jesse and Sarah Tarantino anchor the back line along with senior Alyse DiCenzo. Throughout the season, opponents have had trouble getting into the box, or even getting shots through the line, allowing the Heron halfbacks to transition the ball quickly forward. The senior led midfield includes Chelsae England, Leslie Carrese, Jamie Sawyer, and Leah Shatkin.
While William Smith had a number of 1-0 wins, they also had their share of matches with a two or three goal winning margin. Demonstrating their capability against skilled opponents, the Heron winning margin was maintained in the post-season. After an easy 6-0 win over Lancaster Bible, they bested a strong Wheaton (Mass.) team 1-0, Middlebury 2-1, and really shocked a tough Williams side 4-0. And in wrapping up their fifth straight Liberty League title, they blanked NCAA participant Skidmore 3-0.
Scott Frey, 12th year (2000-2011)
Overall: 226-12-12 (.928)
NCAA's (12 of 12 yrs.): 35-7-4 (.804), Champion 2005, 2008, 2009, Runner-up 2002, 2007, 2010, Semifinals 04-06, Round of 16 00-01, Second Round 03
Aliceann Wilber, 32nd year (1980-2011)
Overall: 443-121-50 (.765)
NCAA's (21 of 32 yrs.): 33-17-7 (.640), Champion 1988, Runner-Up 1987, 1997, Semifinals 95-02-08-10, Quarterfinals 89-92-93-94-00-01, Second Round 98-99-09, First Round 90-96-05-07
Seniors' 4-year Record (through Nov. 20)
Messiah: 94-1-4 (.970) overall | NCAAs (08-09-10-11): 16-1-0, Champion 2008, 2009, Runner-up 2010
William Smith: 68-8-12 (.841) overall | NCAAs (08-09-10-11): 8-2-2, Semifinals 2008, 2010
Messiah: Tournament experience is synonymous with Messiah soccer. The Falcons have won the national championship in 2005, 2008, and 2009, and lost in the finals to Wheaton (Ill.) in 2007, and Hardin-Simmons in 2010. 2011 marks the 12th straight season that the Falcons have been in the NCAA post-season tournament. This experience sets a real expectation for success and can impact the attitudes of the opposing teams.
William Smith: The Herons and Coach Wilber have put togther a strong tradition of soccer excellence over the past three decades. William Smith won their only championship in 1988, but they have been active in the NCAA post-season in 22 of the last 27 years. In the 2008 and 2010 seasons, they were semifinalists, and were runner-ups in 1987 and 1997. The Herons have plenty of post-season experience, and are clearly motivated by their inability to get back to the final in recent years.
It is No. 1 versus No. 2. An ideal match-up. An earlier contest results in a scoreless draw. How do you analyze that?
Statistically, these teams present an ideal challenge for each other, and thus, offer a potentially great battle for the benefit of the fans, coaches, and players. While it is clear that Messiah's powerful offense has overwhelmed opponents to a greater extent than has William Smith's, it is also clear (perhaps less so) that the Heron defense has locked down opponents more effectively than have the Falcons. So who wins when the unmovable object meets the unstoppable force? The answer is nothing, at least according to the results from September when these two teams met in Geneva, NY. In a national semifinal match, the results may be different as the chance at a national championship is on the line. And with a number of key seniors on both sides, nothing will be held back.
The Heron offense has been up the upswing in the post-season, and they had to play from behind in their win over Middlebury. That is valuable experience for a team that hasn't lost yet in 2011. Technically, the Herons have also had a slightly tougher road in the post-season with Wheaton (Mass.), Middlebury, and Williams. But the Amherst match was a good test for Messiah, as they faced some pressure that they haven't yet experienced.
Messiah has a deep bench, and has position players that can move up and score. This factor can really make a difference against a tight defense as change ups in the attack can come suddenly and with new faces. It is a certainty that Coach Frey will make needed adjustments quickly if his team struggles to score, and his effectiveness in this area has been proven. In light of this, it should be noted that the Herons scored most of their goals in the second half of play this season, so a fight to the finish is in their blood as well. The difference in this match might come down to the keepers; which senior will be able handle a new look? Both sides bring very skilled front lines, and there will be challenges as shots move high and as set plays provide opportunities - as they did back in September.
Regardless of the outcome, both sides are well deserving of this semifinal as the top two teams in the country. Both teams certainly have the ability and the desire to win on Friday and again on Saturday. Do not miss this one!
|Other Semifinal Previews: Semifinal 2||Men's: Semifinal 1 | Semifinal 2|
Comments or feedback for the author? E-mail James Matson.