Women's Soccer Falls at Messiah in NCAA Tournament

Women's Soccer Falls at Messiah in NCAA Tournament

GRANTHAM, Pa. (11/16/13) - The Lasell College women's soccer team saw another outstanding season come to a close as they fell to the two-time defending NCAA champions from Messiah College, 4-1 on Saturday afternoon. The Lasers conclude their 2013 campaign at 17-4-1 overall while Messiah advanced to take on Amherst College tomorrow in the second round.

Senior Arianna DiOrio (Revere, Mass.) scored for Lasell on an assist from Sarah Jones (Duxbury, Mass.) and Lasers goal keeper Leah Pappalardo (Whitman, Mass.) made 10 saves in the match. 

Lasell fended off a pair of early chances from Messiah in the first three minutes of the match and countered with a pair of opportunities of their own. Lasell sprung Bridget Lynch (Dover, N.H.) with a ball over the top and Lynch's first touch pushed her past a pair of Messiah defenders leaving her with a one-on-one with the Falcons keeper. Lynch's low shot was bound for the right side netting before a diving Audra Larson tipped the shot just outside the post giving the Lasers a corner. 

"I really thought the ball was going to find it's way into the net" said Lynch, "I knew there were a pair of defenders bearing down and I wanted to make sure I got a shot off and I was hoping it would be the right ball, but their keeper made a great save.

Kayla Lynch (Dover, N.H.) forced Larson into another save a minute later and the Lasers proved they weren't backing down from the Falcons. Messiah took a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute of play when a chip from Nikki Elsaesser glanced off the outstretched golves of Lasell keeper Pappalardo and deflected in off the left post. 

Lasell equalized in the 28th minute when Sarah Jones collected a ball cleared following a Lasell corner and served the ball back into the mix in front of the net. DiOrio got a touch on the ball, flikcking it past Larson to knot the score at 1-1. The Lasers goal was only the sixth one allowed by Messiah all season, and the first yielded by the hosts in over a month of action. Feeding off the momentum of the equalizing goal, Lasell fought off a series of Messiah chances, taking the match to intermission tied at 1-1. Messiah held a 7-3 lead in shots in the poening half, putting four shots on frame to three by Lasell.

The Falcons netted in the 47th minute when a shot by Elsaesser was saved by Pappalardo but the rebound fell to the feet of Corinne Wulf who finished it to give the home side a 2-1 lead. Seizing on the momentum boost Messiah added to their lead in the 53rd minute on a strike by Elsaesser, her second of the match. Hannah weyland gave Messiah a three goal cushion in the 56th minute as the Falcons capitalized on a tiringi Lasell side. 

The Lasers continued to chase the game but were unable to capitalize on any chances to claw their way closer, falling 4-1. 

Following the match, Lasell coach Vito LaFrancesca credited his upperclassmen and their leadership for the run of success the program has had, "We've been very fortunate to havea great group of leaders in our program. They've set a standard for success and a mind-set for how we approach the game and they have passed it on to our younger players. Our success grows out of the example they set and it has become the foundation for us moving forward."

The departing senior class of Arianna DiOrio, Jill Greaney (Holyoke, Mass.), Jamie Osterberg (Monroe, Conn.), Melissa Leonard (N. Brookfield, Mass.) and Sam Peck (Woodbury, Conn.) became the first collections of Lasell athletes to win four straight Great Northeast Athletic Conference titles, earning four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.