MECHANICSBURG, Pa. – The Franklin & Marshall men's soccer team saw its memorable season come to an end on Sunday evening with a 4-1 loss to Messiah in the sectional finals of the NCAA Tournament.
The Diplomats wrapped up their 2013 campaign with a 17-4-2 mark, while the Falcons moved to 22-1-1 and will square off against Williams on Dec. 6 in San Antonio, Texas with the winner advancing to the NCAA Title Game.
F&M came out controlling possession in the early going before the tide began to turn for the Messiah offense starting around the 16th minute. The Falcons had the first opportunity to light the scoreboard when Joshua Wood sent a chance on net that careened off the post and shot back into play where Jack Thompson fired a shot back on net, but missed just high.
The opportunity kicked off a flurry of scoring chances for Messiah that paid off in the 30th minute when Robby Johnson found Wood on the left side of the field who went one-on-one with a Diplomats' defender, winning the battle, and sending a rocket past T.J. White to give the Falcons a 1-0 advantage.
Just 1:56 into the second, Messiah tacked on another score when Mike Kovach took a pass from Jeremy Payne, slipped behind the F&M defense and sent a shot into the far post for the two-goal advantage.
The Falcons continued to dominate possession in the second half, consistently putting pressure on White and the Diplomats' defense.
Jeremy Payne capitalized with the knockout punch in the 65th minute, sending a low shot past White for the 3-0 lead and putting the contest out of reach. Jacob Bender wrapped up the Falcons' scoring just 12 minutes later off a helper from Danny Brandt to give Messiah a 4-0 advantage.
The Falcons led in shots at 20-4 while also holding the edge on corners at 5-3.
F&M's run in the NCAA Tournament ends after the Diplomats advanced further than any other team in program history, picking up wins over Catholic (1-0) in the first round, Dickinson in the second (3-0) and Rose-Hulman (3-0) in the sectional semifinals.
The 2013 Centennial Conference (CC) Champions, F&M entered the tournament winners of five straight that included a 2-1 2OT victory over Dickinson on Nov. 10 for its first conference championship.