WILLIAMSTOWN, MA — A dramatic postseason run has the Williams College men's soccer team making its second straight Div. III Final Four appearance, and its third visit to the national semifinals in the last five years.
This time Williams (15-6) hopes to advance beyond the national semifinal, the spot where the two previous journeys have ended. In 2012, the Ephs lost a 3-2 decision to Ohio Northern. In 2009, Williams fell 2-1 to Messiah, who it will face again Friday (8:30 PM EST) for the right to play for a national championship.
The Falcons (20-1-1) outscored its four NCAA Tournament opponents 18-3 to earn the right to return San Antonio and defend its national championship from a year ago. Messiah is making its 25th NCAA Tournament appearance in all, and has won four of the last five national titles and seven of the last nine. This will be there 14th Final Four appearance.
The Falcons are unbeaten in their last 15 games (14-0-1). Their lineup includes seven double-digit point scorers led by Joshua Wood (21g, 5a), Jeremy Payne (15g, 9a), and Jack Thompson (5g, 17a). Mike Kovach (6g, 9a), Danny Brandt (7g, 2a), Sheldon Myer (5g, 5a), and Brian Ramirez (5g, 4a) round out that group.
Brandon West is also a standout in the goal, and carries a 0.55 goals against average (GAA) and a .760 save percentage across 24 starts.
Williams is 7-3 in its last 10 games, but 6-1 in the postseaason. The Ephs defeated Middlebury (3-2) and Wesleyan (2-1) in the NESCAC Tournament before falling to Amherst 1-0 in the conference championship game.
They opened the NCAA Tournament with a 4-0 victory over Elms, defeated Western New England 4-1in the second round — both games at home on Cole Field — then traveled to Amherst where they bested No. 20 Brandeis 2-0 and then upset No. 5 Amherst 1-0 in the national quarterfinals.
The Ephs have different players with double-digit point totals with Matt Muralles (7g, 3a) and Mohammed Rashid (5g, 5a) leading the way. Matt Kastner (5g, 3a) and Jonathan Westling (5g, 1a) follow while Chris Conder (2g, 6a) rounds out the group. Conder has eight of his 10 points in the four NCAA Tournament games, including game-winning goals in the last two games.
Peter Morrell has started all 21 games this season and owns a 0.81 GAA with a .823 save percentage.
In Friday's first semifinal at 6 PM (EST) Loras College (19-1-3) will battle Rutgers-Camden (22-0-2).