GREENSBORO, N.C. – In a battle of Division III women’s soccer titans, the No. 1 Messiah women’s soccer team held off the No. 2 William Smith Herons in the 2019 National Championship Game to claim their sixth National Championship in program history. Maddie Kohl provided the only goal in a 1-0 victory, scoring in the 55th minute off a feed from Ellie Lengacher.
The Falcons and Herons battled through a scoreless first half with the Herons outshooting the Falcons 5-3 in the period. After a few halftime adjustments, Messiah showed some more fight up front, finding the go-ahead goal just 10 minutes into the second half.
The Herons had a few dangerous moments down the stretch, but the Falcons prevailed for their sixth National Championship in program history and the first since the 2012 season. With the 1-0 victory, Messiah avenges their lone loss of the season, a 2-0 setback against William Smith on Sept. 7.
With six titles to their name, Messiah now has the most in NCAA Division III women’s soccer history. The Championship marks the 31st National Championship in Messiah Athletics history (19 team Title).
The Falcons finish the season with an overall record of 22-1-3.
Early Moment for the Herons
The Herons nearly jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the sixth minute when Katrine Berg sent a dangerous cross from the right side toward the back post. The centering pass looked initially like a shot, but as the ball skipped through the box, William Smith’s Sheila McQuillen hustled to the post to hit a left-footed shot from inside the six.
After making three saves in yesterday’s penalty kick shootout, Messiah’s keeper Lydia Ewing was up for the early challenge, grabbing the shot to keep the match scoreless in the early going.
Outside of the early attempt from McQuillen, the majority of the first half hour of Saturday’s National Championship was contested in the midfield. Despite play in the midfield, the Falcons had a small handful of chances.
In the 22nd minute, Shelby Burger made an overlapping run in the left corner and sent a dangerous cross into the middle of the box toward Megan Mansfield. With a defender draped around her shoulder, Mansfield was unable to get a quality touch on the feed and the Herons kicked the ball out of danger.
The Falcons’ next chance came in the 38th minute when Mallory Johnson tried her luck from distance. Her skipping shot from 25 yards out was cleanly picked up by the Herons’ keeper.
William Smith had a few quality moments during the opening half as well, attempting a total of five shots in the half. Despite outshooting the Falcons 5-3 in the half, the Herons put just one shot on target against two for Messiah.
William Smith turned up the pressure in the final stretch of the half, keeping the Falcons’ defense on their heels for the final minutes heading into the half. Messiah’s backline held strong and the game turned to the second-half tied 0-0.
Kohl’s Moment of Brilliance
After a few halftime adjustments, the Falcons were in the driver’s seat at the beginning of the second half. While Messiah did not register their first shot of the period until the 55th minute, Messiah controlled possession in the Herons’ territory throughout the opening stretch of play.
In the 55th minute, Messiah found their moment of brilliance. As she did all day long, Kayla Herr won possession in the midfield for the Falcons and found Ellie Lengacher posting up her defender just outside the box. Megan Mansfield went out wide to the right, brining the Herons’ center back with her. With green grass in front of her, Maddie Kohl made a run into the middle of the box. Lengacher found Kohl in stride and the Messiah junior took one controlling touch before ripping a low right-footed shot toward the left post.
Kohl’s strike beat the diving keeper and found the back of the net for the 1-0 Messiah lead with 35 minutes remaining in the match.
The tally was Kohl’s 12th goal of the season and fourth of the NCAA Tournament. She finished the NCAA Tournament with 11 points and was named the Most Valuable Offensive Player of the Tournament.
Just 10 seconds following the Falcons’ goal, the Herons nearly found the equalizer when Katrine Berg sent a shot from the right-side of the box toward the near post. Ewing had the shot covered, tipping it over the crossbar and keeping it a 1-0 Messiah lead.
After things settled down, Messiah controlled the majority of the remainder of the game. The Falcons outshot the Herons 6-2 across the final 32 minutes with quality chances to double the lead.
In a five-minute span from the 59th to 64th minute, the Falcons put three shots on goal with attempts from McKenzie Swartley, Ellie Lengacher, and Barb Foster turned about by Amanda Kessler, William Smith’s goalie.
The Herons had one final look in the 90th minute when Julia Berg flicked a header toward goal, but Ewing pounced on the shot with 23 seconds left to seal the sixth National Title in program history.
With the victory, Messiah earns the sixth National Championship in program history. Messiah previously won women’s soccer NCAA National Titles in 2005, 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2012.
With their sixth women’s soccer title, Messiah breaks a tie with UC San Diego for the most women’s soccer National Championships in NCAA Division III history. The Falcons now stand alone with six.
Saturday’s Championship is the 31st NCAA Title in Messiah athletics history. All 31 of those titles have been claimed since 2000, with men’s and women’s soccer combining for 17 Championships.