December 6, 2019

Messiah wins PK shootout, advances to women's final

Other Semifinal Recaps:  Women's Semifinal 2 Men's Semifinal 1 | Semifinal 2

By Contributor

Photos by Dave Hilbert,

Friday morning, Cinderella met Goliath on a perfect morning for soccer and nearly held onto the glass slipper to dance another day. Temperatures in the low 50’s and a slight breeze made for perfect conditions to play 110 minutes of soccer.

First Half

First-year forward Alex Adams puts the Tartans in front with a first half goal.

The game opened with 10 minutes of the two teams feeling each other out with a battle in the midfield and few scoring opportunities. Messiah started to take control over the next 15 minutes, but couldn’t mount any dangerous threats and take advantage of all their possession.

Conversely, the Tartans seized the opportunity that came their way. Against the run of play at the 25-minute mark, Lena Spencer received the ball deep down the right side and quickly sent in a dangerous cross from the baseline. The Messiah keeper, Lydia Ewing, came off her line to punch the ball away and collided with her defender, who was rushing towards the net with Tartan forward Alex Adams. Adams took advantage of the chaos and buried the ball in the back of the net for her team-leading 14th goal, tying the program’s single-season record.

Having gained confidence from their goal, Carnegie Mellon didn’t sit back and defend, but surged forward and took control of the game for the remainder of the half. With neither team able to seriously threaten either goal over the final twenty minutes, the half ended with the Tartans holding a 1-0 lead, despite being outshot 5-9 by the Falcons.

 Second Half

Messiah celebrates Kayla Herr's equalizer in the 78th minute.

As expected, the Falcons came out strong in the second half, putting on the pressure for the first ten minutes. Carnegie Mellon weathered the storm and began to turn the tide slowly but surely. While absorbing wave after wave of Messiah attack, Tartan forward Spencer continued to cause havoc for Messiah, hovering near midfield and making dangerous counterattacks at the Falcon defense. It seemed inevitable that the game would soon be 1-1 or 2-0.

The middle 15 minutes of the half was a midfield battle with few dangerous opportunities. Messiah was possessing through the midfield, but losing the ball deep in Tartan territory before any real danger of scoring. The Falcons finally found pay dirt on a very un-Messiah-like play, when midfielder Kayla Herr took possession off of a throw-in and took a shot from 25 yards out that “had eyes”, traveling along the turf and finding the inside of the left post to make the game 1-1.

After the goal, each team had promising opportunities, but neither side produced a threatening shot on goal.


The overtime periods were played fairly evenly for most of the twenty minutes, with the sole exception being at the end of the first overtime period with 1:40 left. The Tartans sent in a cross that Messiah keeper Ewing came out to challenge, but missed, leaving a Tartan forward with an open goal. The shot was placed on target, but Messiah defender Emily D’Amico was there to clear it off the line and keep the Falcons hope alive. As stated, it was the lone serious scoring opportunity in the overtime periods and the game headed to penalty kicks.

Lydia Ewing makes one of her three shootout saves to send Messiah to the women's final.

 Penalty Kick Shootout

Having just gotten the PK monkey off their backs in the quarterfinals against Williams two weeks ago, the Falcons had to feel better about lining up at the midfield line this time. Messiah won the coin toss and chose to kick first. Carnegie Mellon chose to swap out keepers and inserted junior keeper Carolyn Botz for the penalties. The first two Falcons converted their attempts, while the first Tartan’s kick was saved by Ewing, making the total after two rounds 2-1 in favor of the Falcons. Each keeper saved the kicks in the third round, leaving a 2-1 Messiah lead heading into round three. All-American Brooke Firestone buried her kick, and Ewing made the save the save to send the Falcons through to their tenth national final.

The Carnegie-Mellon Tartans finish at 14-5-3 reaching the first Final Four in program history. This young side, which grew throughout the season and battled the No. 1 ranked team to a standstill, looks to be a fixture deep in the tournament in the years to come.

The Messiah Falcons 21-1-3 advance to the championship match yet again, including the second time for the seniors. They will meet the William Smith Herons who dealt the Falcons their sole defeat this season back in early September.

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Other Semifinal Recaps:  Women's Semifinal 2 Men's Semifinal 1 | Semifinal 2
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