When ten-year old Audrey Thomas, and eleven-year old Katie Chandler would take the field together at Eastside FC Premier Soccer in Washington, there was no way they could’ve imagined someday they would be on opposite sides of the field in the NCAA Championship Final.
Then, after BR-3 Williams forward Natasha Albaneze buried a penalty kick into the right corner, putting the Ephs up 2-1 for good in their match against BR-2 Centre, the stage was set for the two former teammates to face off in the Final.
Washington U Tops Messiah in Penalty Kick Shootout
When Washington U junior goalkeeper Lizzy Crist made her third-straight penalty kick save, she sent the D3 Women’s NCAA Semi-Final shootout with Messiah into sudden death. To open the first extra frame, junior Hannah Rosenburg snuck a shot inside the left corner to put the Bears up 3-2. Crist then watched as Falcon shooter Missy Biener’s shot sailed over the crossbar to punch the Bear’s ticket to the final.
Crist made five saves, as the semi-final ended after 110 minutes with a 1-1 tie.
Messiah came out quickly registering the first two shots of the game, with one on goal that Crist had to save in the second minute. The Falcons held a 1-0 lead deep into the second-half, thanks to Holly Burgard’s left-footed strike from 17 yards out in the 41st minute. Erin Sollenberger collected the assist on the play after she took a lofted ball to her feet in the middle of the box and dropped a pass back to Burgard for the shot.
Capitalizing on a tired Messiah back line, the Bears got the equalizer in the 74th minute when junior All-American Katie Chandler took a pass from sophomore Megan Renken and slid a left-footed shot from 10 yards out past Messiah goalkeeper Audra Larson. The goal for Chandler was her eighth of the season, and just the fourth allowed this season by Messiah.
“It’s a whirlwind of emotion during penalty kicks,” said Crist, who has an 18-2-1 record in goal. “It was an exciting moment and I took one PK at a time.”
Sophomore Gillian Myers recorded the first successful PK to tie the score at 1-1, and then senior Liz Collins connected on a penalty kick to knot the score at 2-2.
Williams comes from behind for 2-1 win over Centre
The Williams women’s soccer team will make its second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Division III National Championship game thanks in part to two second-half goals from Natasha Albaneze and a key save from Tressa Palcheck.
The Ephs edged Centre 2-1 at Swope Park Village’s Championship Field Friday despite falling behind just under two minutes into the match.
After the early goal by Centre’s Destinee Graves, Williams controlled play, outshooting the Colonels 7-2 in the first half, but still trailed at the break.
Sophomore Natashia Albaneze collected a deflected attempt at a clearance outside the Colonel penalty area, taking one touch to create space and another to send a right-footed, curling effort into the back of the net via the right post.
Just five minutes after her opening goal, the Ephs completed the comeback, as freshman Kristina Alvarado was brought down from behind in the penalty area by Tori Dillard. Albaneze stepped up and buried it from 12 yards to give the Ephs the 2-1 lead with just fifteen minutes left to play.
The Ephs continued their dominance over the possession of the ball, successfully running down the clock to secure the win and the return trip to the final.
As for Thomas and Chandler, the Championship Final will put the two back on the field together, but this time sporting different colors.
Their Eastside coach back in those early days was Michele French, now the U-20 US National Team Coach. French said of her two future stars, “They are two of the most genuine players I have ever had the privilege of coaching – selfless and would do anything for the team.”
As the two square off in the National Championship Final, their Williams and Washington U teammates will be counting on it.