Sweet 16! Sectionals announced
|Junior Alexander Rouse and Medaille are in the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history|
Headline photo by Jeffrey Levy, d3photography.com
The Sweet Sixteen is settled, but the feelings haven't as close matches and penalty kicks were the rule on Sunday, with a few upsets thrown in to mix things up. Medaille, Lynchburg, and Babson grabbed some attention with their results, and the Denison women made a statement.
No. 1 Messiah took Montclair State into overtime after the Falcons gave up a goal in the 61st minute. And while the shots in the match were close, and the intensity was high, it was yet another heroic win for Messiah as Nick Thompson scored in the 92nd minute for the exciting finish - no surprise that Geoff Pezon was involved on the play, kicking in another assist. It finished the season for Montclair, who was a mild surprise as a Pool C pick, but the Red Hawks made the most of their opportunity with a shut-out of Maritime in round one, and Sunday's overtime loss to the defending national champions.
Facing Messiah on Saturday will be surprise winner Medaille, a 15-4-2 side that earned their spot in the post-season with yet another AMCC title. But this is an unranked and normally quiet Maverick team that hasn't been so quiet lately - a 1-0 win over No. 21 Rochester on Saturday and then Sunday's penalty kick victory over No. 7 Swarthmore. Keeper Jimmy Frascati had two saves in the PK round against the Garnet, after fellow Maverick keeper Nick Kurtz kept them off the board in regulation and overtime. In 2008, these two teams met in the first round, and the eighth ranked Falcons won that contest 2-1 in overtime - and who had the winning goal? Sophomore Geoff Pezon. This year though, the stage is set a bit differently as the Mavericks are in the final 16 for the first time in program history. And that's something special.
In women's action, things were more settled as the higher ranked side took the win, for the most part. In addition to Saturday's Redlands upset win over No. 21 Cal Lutheran, Sunday had Denison shocking No. 7 Illinois Wesleyan with a 2-0 shut-out. Denison was 0-3-1 against ranked teams in the regular season, but has come alive in the post-season, while the Titans had not allowed two goals against but once all season - and that against No. 4 Wheaton. But the Big Red did their job and plays in the round of 16 for the fourth time in Denison history.
Easy winners on Saturday and Sunday were: No. 10 William Smith, a 3-1 winner over Scranton TCNJ, Messiah, and No. 20 Williams, in a 6-0 shut down of Brandeis. The table is now set for a big competitive left-side-of-the-bracket weekend: Oneonta faces William Smith, Messiah plays Dickinson, Johns Hopkins and TCNJ face off, and Williams is up against edgy Eastern Connecticut State, a penalty kick winner over Wheaton (Mass.). No. 8 Emory also advanced with a 1-0 defeat of No. 17 Lynchburg. The Eagles will face No. 4 Wheaton on Friday.
In St. Louis, Loras came to face No. 8 Washington U for a second round match - a first round match really for the Bears, who enjoyed a first round bye. After an iffy start against Greenville in round one, Loras got going and won easily, but against Wash U, there was no easy and it looked like there would be no win - for either team. But in a tough battle that had over 600 internet video spectators, Loras scored in the final minute of regulation to tie, and then cruised through the penalty kick round for the win. The Duhawks now keep their chances alive for a return to the Final Four. They will face UW-Oshkosh on Friday.
Three NESCAC teams stayed alive with wins, Bowdoin, Amherst, and Middlebury, but the NCAA will only let one have a shot at the semifinals in San Antonio. In the same "upper-left" bracket, Babson upset No. 12 Williams on Sunday 2-1 in overtime. And in the bracket below, Lynchburg pulled an upset on No. 9 Emory with a 2-1 win. Emory had also enjoyed a bye in the first round, an advantage that has only paid off for two of the four awarded.
No. 25 Muhlenberg battled No. 6 Stevens into overtime and came out the winner in a mild upset, and No. 15 UW-Whitewater was an easy 3-0 winner over Augsburg.
We'll have Sweet 16 previews this week and D3soccer.com will have the sectional locations and times on our scoreboard when that information is released by the NCAA on Monday.