GENEVA, N.Y.—Top-ranked Messiah College scored three times in the second half to defeat seventh-ranked Babson College, 5-2, in an NCAA Division Tournament Semifinal on Saturday at McCoohey Field on the campus of William Smith College.
Babson, which was making its first Division III Final Four appearance, sees its season come to a close at 21-3, while Messiah (21-1) advances to the national championship game for the ninth time in program history.
Junior Jacki Merrigan (Canton, Mass.) and sophomore Ashley Tango (Reading, Mass.) both scored for the Beavers, while classmate Lauren Drakeley (Woodbury, Conn.) contributed one assist. First-year goalkeeper Deirdre Barry (Longmeadow, Mass.) made four saves and juniors Jessica Kelley (Lincoln, R.I.) and Julie Mortimer (Spencer, Mass.) combined to make three defensive saves in the loss.
Senior Moriah Pfautz (Ephrata, Pa.) scored twice, while juniors Carissa Gehman (Holtwood, Pa.), Taylor Holt (Bear, Del.) and Hannah Roland (Fleetwood, Pa.) all finished with a goal apiece for the Falcons. Classmate Nicole Wilkerson (Ephrata, Pa.) added two assists and sophomore Shelby Landes (Telford, Pa.) made one save as Messiah stayed unbeaten against Division III opponents and extended its winning streak to 21 games.
The Green and White broke though first when Merrigan scored her 11th goal of the year in the 20th minute. Senior Staci Swallow (South Portland, Maine) had her shot from the left side of the circle blocked by Messiah senior Sara Brooks (Lancaster, Pa.), but the rebound kicked out to Merrigan, who calmly hit a shot inside the left post for a 1-0 advantage.
The Beavers appeared to take a two-goal lead just over six minutes later, but senior Victoria Spofford's (Merrimac, Mass.) tally was wiped off the board. The Falcons took advantage of the break with a pair of goals by Pfautz just 86 seconds apart to go in front 2-1 at the 28:23 mark.
Babson pulled even going into the break by scoring on the second of two consecutive corners with no time on the clock. After having her shot on the first corner blocked, Tango took a pass from Drakeley and ripped a shot from the left side of the circle that beat Landes and snuck inside the left post for her 19th goal of the year.
Messiah went back in front a little under 10 minutes into the second half off a penalty corner. Roland's shot from just inside the top of the circle hit a stick and carried over Barry, who was unable to knock it wide, to make it 3-2.
Kelley made back-to-back defensive saves to keep the Beavers' deficit at one in the 54th minute and Barry and Mortimer made consecutive stops in the 55th minute before Holt knocked her third attempt into the cage to give the Falcons a 4-2 edge with 15:50 to play. The Falcons capped the scoring with Gehman's marker in the 69th minute for the final margin.
Messiah finished with a 24-7 edge in shots and a 9-3 advantage in penalty corners.
• Saturday's match was the first between Babson and Messiah.
• The Beavers set new program records for wins (21) and shutouts (15) this fall, and their 88 goals are the second highest total in school history behind the 2005 squad, which scored 91.
• Saturday's loss marked the first time in 38 games that Babson failed to win when scoring first.
• With her goal on Saturday, Tango wraps up the season with 51 points and is just the sixth player in school history to surpass 50 points in a season.