Dec. 4, 2010

By Douglas Pils

SAN ANTONIO - Two years after their first meeting in the national semifinal, Messiah handed a more experienced William Smith the same result.

Amanda Naeher, Alex Brandt and Ali Rogers provided the scoring as the Falcons advanced to their third straight NCAA Division III womens soccer final with a 4-0 victory over the Herons Friday at the Blossom Soccer Complex.

Top-ranked Messiah (24-0) has won two titles since a 3-0 victory in 2008, and it extended its D-III record unbeaten streak to 76 games on Friday. It will face undefeated and second-ranked Hardin-Simmons (23-0-1) in the final at 5 p.m. CST on Saturday.

The Herons (18-3-3) put the pressure on in the first half and only trailed 1-0 after Brandts goal in the 16th minute. They went into the half full of confidence.

I thought in the first half, William Smith came out very determined to disrupt what we do and played unbelievably,” Messiah coach Scott Frey said. Every time we played a ball, they were on our back.”

That didnt last very long into the second half, as the Falcons depth took over with three goals. But William Smith never quit, running hard after every ball.

I think its hard, because we played so much better in this game than the last one,” William Smith junior defender Sarah Tarantino said. To have the same result on the scoreboard is heart wrenching.”

Held without a shot in the first half, Naeher thrilled everyone with a run in the 10th minute of the second half. Dribbling in from the right side, she went through three William Smith defenders into the box and blasted a shot across goalkeeper Amanda Davis and into the back left corner of the net for her D-III-leading 32nd goal of the season.

I think the goal was a group effort,” Naeher said. Once we got that, it settled us a little bit. It showed us that, ‘here we go, we can break their pressure. It opened up the game a little bit.”

That allowed Messiahs young players to get in the act late to put the game away. Rogers, a freshman midfielder, scored her ninth goal with a nifty left-footed kick after an assist from sophomore Rachel Scheibeler in the 31st minute. Rogers added her 10th goal on a floater in the 41st minute on the first assist of the season by junior Rachel Loya.

Coming off the bench, I need to take care of the time Ive got, because I dont know how long Im going to be out there,” Rogers said. I just try to keep the high energy coming off the bench and playing the best every time I get in”

Brandt, a sophomore midfielder and the teams fifth-leading scorer, put the Falcons on the board after gathering a loose ball just inside the top of the penalty box. She worked her way around two William Smith defenders and beat Davis to the left post.

William Smiths Brelynn Nasypany nearly tied the score six minutes later with a left-footed blast from about 15 yards. Messiah keeper Autumn Reilly had to dive to her right and just pushed the ball outside the left post.