SALEM, Virginia – In their first-ever appearance in the semifinals of the NCAA Division III Tournament Championships tonight, the Brandeis University women's soccer team dropped a 2-1 decision at the hands of University Athletic Association rivals Washington University in St. Louis in a match played at Kerr Stadium on the campus of Roanoke College.
"I am so proud of this team," said Brandeis head coach Denise Dallamora. "They played awesome. They played hard enough to win, and I'm sad because they didn't, but I'm really proud of them."
In the regular-season meeting between the two teams, WashU controlled play, outshooting the Judges, 32-3, in a 2-0 win. The Bears looked as though they might do the same again when they struck, first just 5:29 into the game. Washington All-American Katie Chandler received a through-ball from Taylor Cohen and buried a shot past Brandeis senior Alexis Grossman (Syosset, N.Y./Syosset).
The Judges were determined not to have a repeat performance. "We wanted to prove to them that we're much better than we were that last time," said senior back Michaela Friedman (Port Jefferson Station, N.Y./Comsewogue). "And we definitely did that tonight."
The Judges showed they wouldn't back down, eventually scoring an equalizer in the 22nd minute. Senior Cidney Moscovitch (Coral Springs, Fla./Coral Glades) made a nifty move to get free on the end line. She sent a beautiful cross through the box, and junior Haliana Burhans (Charlotte, Vt./Champlain Valley Union) was there to slam home her 4th goal of the season. It was the first goal allowed by WashU since October 8 against Emory.
"It was a very nice run by Cid," Burhans said. "That was what we like to do as a team, go end line to make a cross to that someone can finish, and I was the one in the right spot."
The Judges used the momentum from the goal to outshoot Washington, 3-1, the rest of the way in the first half. In the 27th minute, senior Julia McDermott (Hopedale, Mass./Hopedale) made a tremendous individual effort to escape two Bear defenders, but her shot towards the near post was saved by WashU keeper Lizzy Crist. Senior Lea McDaniel (Phoenix, Ariz./Chapparal) shot just wide in the 30th minute, and classmate Jessica Morana (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury) was denied by Crist from straight on in the 33rd minute. The Judges ended up taking a 4-3 shooting edge into halftime.
Washington University withstood Brandeis's efforts in the first half and the Bears were able to convert in just 3:18 in to the second. The Red and Green's Mia Mastroienni had a shot blocked in the 48th minute earning a corner kick. As the Judges tried to clear the ball, it went hard off a WashU player, but fell right to the feet of Chandler. She aimed for the near post from about 10 yards away and blasted a shot that Grossman was able to get a hand on, but the ball still rocketed into the back of the net.
That was all the Bears would need to secure the win. Brandeis seemed to control play throughout the early and middle stages of the game, but the Judges had trouble establishing a shot on goal. McDaniel had a shot blocked by a WashU defender in the 63rd minute, while Morana went wide in the 67th minute. Brandeis was able to maintain possession over the next 15 minutes or so , but they could not break through. As the Judges stepped up their pressure, WashU was able to get forward after a turnover, and the Bears were able to keep Brandeis at bay.
Brandeis's Grossman finished with two saves and two goals allowed in playing all 90 minutes. Washington' Lizzy Crist had three stops.
Brandeis ends its season at 16-4-4, tying a school record for wins in a season. Washington moves on to the National Championship game for the second year in a row. The Bears will meet perennial power Messiah tomorrow at 5:30 for the championship.