ITHACA, N.Y. (information taken from an Ithaca College press release) -- The most successful season in Brandeis University women's soccer history came to a close today with a 2-0 defeat at the hands of 10th-ranked Misericordia University in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division III tournament. The Judges had their deepest advancement in the NCAA tournament and tied a school record for wins in a season as they finished at 16-5-2. Misericordia advances to the Final Four with a 20-2-2 mark.
The Cougars struck early, which had been a hallmark of Brandeis all season. The game-winning goal came in the fourth minute, when sophomore Megan Lannigan charged across the end line towards the left post. She tallied her 10th of the season on an Erin McGreal cross from right post at 3:32.
Brandeis twice looked to even play late in the first frame. Sophomore Sapir Edalati (Great Neck, N.Y./Great Neck South) shot high and right of goal in the 28th minute of play, but it was sophomore Dara Spital's (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) shot at 39:58 that chanced a 1-1 tie. Spital dodged a trio of Cougar defenders and laced a shot across goal from inside the 18 that hit the right post before being cleared from the defensive third.
Misericordia maintained a 1-0 advantage at intermission, with a 9-6 edge in shots, though four of Brandeis's attempts were on net, compared to just one for the Cougars.
The Cougars controlled play in the second half, when they outshot the Judges by an 8-1 margin.
As she has all season, Brandeis sophomore Michelle Savuto (Ridgewood, N.J./Ridgewood) replaced senior Francine Kofinas (Dix Hills, N.Y./Half Hollow Hills West) in goal for the second 45 minutes. Savuto made her first of four saves at 46:10, swatting a shot by Sam Helmstetter high of the crossbar to keep the Judges within one.
Senior Laura Roney had back-to-back chances for the Cougars, firing a shot high left of goal at 52:49 and forcing Savuto to make a diving save at 54:13.
In the 62nd minute, Misericordia sophomore Erin Roberts drew a foul at just outside the top center of the box. Roney took the direct kick, firing the Cougars' second goal inside the right post for a 2-0 cushion. It was Roney's 14th score of the season.
Brandeis gathered a handful of free kicks in the second half, but could only convert one into a shot. Spital sent a dart along the right end line at 86:45 but Cougar keeper Maureen Ciccosanti made her fifth save of the game to preserve the Misericordia shutout. It was the Cougars' 15th clean sheet of the season. They will carry a 470-plus minute shutout streak into the Final Four.
Brandeis returns all but two players next season. For Kofinas and senior midfielder Zoe Siegel (Erie, Pa./McDowell), they end their career with 47 wins and two NCAA tournament appearances in 2010 and 2012.