GENEVA, N.Y. – Ithaca (19-2-0) defeated Messiah (20-3-1) on Saturday afternoon, dropping the Falcons by a score of 1-0 in overtime to move on to the NCAA quarterfinals.
Freshman Megan Nash scored the game-winning goal in the 96th minute, sending the Bombers to the NCAA quarterfinals for the fifth time in seven seasons and the first time since 2011. Sophomore goalkeeper Beth Coppolecchia stopped all seven shots she faced, marking her 10th solo shutout of the season.
The Bombers and Falcons played a strong defensive first frame, with both teams going to the half at a scoreless draw. Messiah pressured the Bombers in the beginning of the second half, sending a number of quality shots on the Ithaca net.
Just three minutes into the second half, Coppolecchia made a diving save to her left, stopping the best Falcon chance of the contest. Coppolecchia made another stop with 4:30 left in the second, blocking a Messiah passing play in the box. Coppolecchia's key saves in the closing minutes sent the game to overtime, tied at 0-0.
Just more than five minutes into the extra session, freshman Holly Niemiec got free at the top of the Messiah box. Niemiec baited two Falcon defenders before sending a pass to the far side, finding Nash alone to the right of the goalkeeper. Nash fired a hard shot, finding the left corner for the game-winning goal.
Nash's tally marked her second goal of the season, and gave Ithaca the 1-0 overtime win against the defending national champions.
Ithaca now has 19 wins on the season, matching last season's total and tying a program record.
The Bombers move on to face William Smith in the NCAA sectional finals, set to start at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Ithaca lost to the Herons in their only meeting earlier this season, dropping a 1-0 decision on Sept. 15 in the final game of the Upstate Collegiate Cup tournament.