Nov. 16, 2008

Courtesy University of Rochester

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - Messiah College used an early goal from Kent Ramirez and a well-organized defense to defeat the University of Rochester, 1-0, in the second round of the NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Championships at Edwin Fauver Stadium.

With the victory, the Falcons moved into the Sweet 16 round of the tournament and will play Montclair State University next weekend. Sites will be announced by the NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Committee on Monday. Messiah improved to 18-2-2 overall. Rochester finished 14-3-2.

This was what might have been expected of two Top 10 teams. Messiah is ranked eighth in the current Division III poll. Rochester is ranked 10th.

"Both coaches agreed that it was a good college game that could have gone either way," said Messiah coach Dave Brandt. "It was wide open. Games like that are fun to watch."

Probably fun to play, too. The teams met last year at Messiah in the Sweet 16 and the Falcons left with a 6-0 victory. Rochester remembered, and talked about it at halftime.

"We said we have to continue to defend," said Rochester head coach Chris Apple. "We learned our lesson last year. We threw too much forward (looking for a goal) and they took advantage."

Ramirez scored on a counterattack four minutes into the match. Geoff Pezon, who scored on a breakaway in overtime Saturday night in round one (a 2-1 win over Medaille), sidestepped a tackle and pushed the ball ahead to Brett Crompton. He ran about a dozen yards with it before laying it into the path of Ramirez at the edge of the penalty area, just to the left of the arc. As Ramirez outpaced a fullback to spring free, Rochester goalkeeper Michael Peacock charged off the line to challenge. Ramirez managed to angle the ball past Peacock's slide and into the lower right corner of the goal at 3:59.

Crompton set up the goal and nearly had another which would have clinched the win with just over 17 minutes to play. Danny Thompson carried the ball up the middle of the pitch and sent it wide right to Derek Black. He went straight down the right side of the penalty area, pulled Rochester defenders towards him, and laid a pass back into the goalmouth where Crompton was running hard at the left post. His shot was blocked low by Peacock, but the Rochester junior couldn't control the rebound. Crompton did, and when he shot again, Peacock smothered it.

"It would have been nice if one of those (two shots) went in," Brandt said. "That ball usually slides under a lot of goalkeepers. He made two good saves."

Rochester had a couple of good chances to get on the scoreboard. Midway through the first half, Scott Cady replaced Clif White and wasn't on the pitch more than a minute before he created danger. Sean Hantes went down the left sideline, pulled the ball back as a defender came out to challenge, and got it to Jake Cargill. His floated cross into the center of the goalmouth found Cady at the edge of the crease. His point-blank header was fisted over the bar by Messiah goalkeeper Jared Clugston.

"I think I might have gotten too excited (as the cross came in)," Cady said. "I didn't put enough power in it to get it past him."

"It was a great play (by Rochester)," Brandt said. "Our keeper was right on it, though. He made a good save."

Clugston's task was helped by the play of J.D. Binger as the center half and Josh Mull among the defenders. They kept challenging Rochester shooters, sometimes doubling the ball and taking it away. Other times shutting down a pathway to the goal.

"Binger was a handful," said Apple. "He reads the play and steps to the ball so well. I thought he was the best player on the field."

Brandt agreed. "I thought J.D. was fantastic tonight," he said. "Rochester is very dangerous on set plays. We defended closer to the goal than we usually do. UR has great service on those balls."

Seven minutes into the second half, Steve Welles collected a pass out on right wing, took it down the sideline and crossed into the middle where Scott Zorn's open shot was blocked by Mull.

As one of the defenders who had to hold his ground, Mull was pleased with the team effort. "We did a pretty good job in transition," he said. "They are very good serving balls up and they are good in the air. J.D. cleans up a lot of stuff."