Headed to the Final Four! Morana lifts #23 women’s soccer to 4-3 overtime win over #1 William Smith in NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals

Jessica Morana '17 celebrates her Golden Goal to send the Judges to the Final Four with Samantha Schwartz '18 (courtesy Timothy Bouwer)
Jessica Morana '17 celebrates her Golden Goal to send the Judges to the Final Four with Samantha Schwartz '18 (courtesy Timothy Bouwer)

WALTHAM, Mass. – Senior midfielder Jessica Morana (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury) scored 103 seconds into overtime to give the No. 23 Brandeis University women's soccer team a thrilling 4-3 victory over top-ranked William Smith College this afternoon in the NCAA Championship Tournament Quarterfinals at Gordon Field in Waltham, Mass. The Judges improve to 16-3-4 on the season, while the Herons suffer their only loss of the season and dip to 21-1-0.

Brandeis advances to the NCAA Semifinal Round for the first time in school history. The Judges will head to Salem, Va. On Friday, December 2, where they will take on No. 8 Washington University, which defeated No. 2 Trinity University (Texas), 1-0.

"William Smith is a class act program," said Brandeis Head Coach Denise Dallamora. "I knew it was going to be a great game to be associated with and a great team to play against."

Despite an extremely strong headwind, senior back Michaela Friedman (Port Jefferson Station, N.Y./Comsewogue) steadied the ball on a direct kick and served it into the goal mouth, where the William Smith keeper came out to meet the ball, but was unable to secure it. Junior forward Samantha Schwartz (Highland Park, Ill./Highland Park) sent the ball to the right post, where Morana was able to re-direct the loose ball into the back of the net, despite laying on the ground, for the game winning score at 91:43 of overtime to send the Judges to their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Final Four.

"Our number one thing that we always stress is to follow shots," said Morana. "We knew we had to come out on fire. That was a big five moment for us."

Brandeis looked like it had the match won in regulation just a few minutes prior to the extra period with a 3-2 lead, but the No. 1 Herons scored with just 3.7 seconds left on the second half clock to knot the contest at 3-3. Senior midfielder Brie Ruane (Roslyn Harbor, N.Y./North Shore) carried the ball into the right corner, where she served a cross into the box. The Judges' keeper leapt up and swatted the pass away with one hand, but junior midfielder Lauren Kogelmann (Slingerlands, N.Y.) came crashing into the box to put the rebound across the goal line for the William Smith equalizer.

"I just wanted to get the ball in the box," said Ruane. "Thank God, Koges (Kogelmann) was there."

"We had nothing to lose at that point, so we all just rushed in," said Kogelmann about the game-tying score.

William Smith netted the lone goal of the first half when Ruane dribbled into the left corner of the box, before finding sophomore forward Megan Richard (Southwick, Mass/Westminster School) with a centering cross that resulted in her eighth tally of the year and a 1-0 edge at 21:48. The Herons' defense shut down Brandeis in the opening half, limiting the host school to just two shots, while the William Smith offense uncorked seven.

The Judges' came out of the intermission with a sense of urgency, but were unable to put anything in the net in the first 25 minutes of the second stanza. Sophomore midfielder Megan Barwick (Seattle, Wash./Seattle Academy) was able to break up a Brandeis rush in the 74th minute for the Herons before dumping the ball to sophomore forward Sarah Olick-Sutphen (Manlius, N.Y./Fayetteville-Manlius), who sent a short cross to senior forward Kara Shue (Fairport, N.Y./Fairport) in the top left corner of the box. Shue ripped a shot into the far post that ricocheted off the iron and over the goal line for her team-high 13th score of the season and a 2-0 lead at 73:38.

The Judges' were quick to shake off the marker and wasted no time with their answer, scoring just 32 seconds later to cut the deficit in half at 2-1. Brandeis quickly moved the ball into the offensive zone, where Schwartz carried it into the left post, before sending a centering cross to senior forward Lea McDaniel (Phoenix, Ariz/Chaparral) for a one-timer that she buried just under the cross bar at 74:10.

"We always come together after allowing a goal to wipe the slate clean," said Friedman. "We didn't want anyone going off on their own thinking about giving up the goal. We just wanted to move ahead."

The momentum began to swing the Judges' way as they took advantage of the Herons playing without a key center back, who was knocked out of the contest with an injury earlier in the match. Brandeis owned an 8-4 shooting advantage in the half and put a pair of goals on the board in a span of 40 seconds to take its first lead of the afternoon at 3-2.

Schwartz kept the William Smith defense guessing when she possessed the ball at the top of the 18-yard box, made a move, turned and unleashed a shot just over the outstretched fingertips of the Herons' keeper and into the back of the net for her 11th marker of the season to pull the Judges even at 2-2 with 8:44 remaining in the second half. William Smith was later called for a yellow card and the Judges were able to capitalize when Friedman served a direct kick from 30 yards out onto the foot of Morana, who sent a shot ticketed for the right post, but the Herons' keeper made a diving stop. Senior back Julia McDermott (Hopedale, Mass.) was in the right place at the right time and buried the rebound for her first collegiate goal in her 71st career match at the 81:56 mark for a 3-2 lead.

-Alan Wickstrom