NCAA DIII Women: Elsaesser leads dominant Messiah

Five-time national champion Messiah is the favorite in the NCAA Division III Women's Tournament that moves into the semifinals on Friday.

Led by Nikki Elsaesser (second in the nation with 31 goals and 77 points and third with 15 assists), the Falcons will be appearing in their 11th NCAA Division III final four but first in three years. They have dominated in the playoffs, outscoring their opposition, 17-0, and have yet to allow more than two shots in a single game.

Messiah faces Washington University, which comes into the final four with eight straight shutout wins. Goalkeeper Lizzy Crist has allowed just seven goals in 20 games.

Williams, which lost in shootouts both in the NESCAC championship game and in the NCAA final in 2014, had better luck this year, beating William Smith on penalties. Things did not look good after William Smith's Shay Callahan evened the score at 1-1 in the 85th minute but the Ephs prevailed from the spot, 3-0, to set up a meeting with Centre.

Centre is making its first NCAA Division III semifinal appearance, but the Colonels have won 13 straight games. It set a new program record with 21 wins following a 4-0 victory over Calvin in the sectional final. Destinie Graves leads Centre with 26 goals, tied for eighth in the country coming into the final four.

NCAA Division III Women's Tournament:
QUARTERFINALS
Nov. 22
Williams 1 William Smith 1
(Williams wins 3-0 on penalties.)
Centre 4 Calvin 0
Washington, Mo. 1 Wisconsin-Whitewater 0
Messiah 5 Swarthmore 0
SEMIFINALS
Dec. 4
Messiah (21-0-2) vs. Washington, Mo. (20-2-0)
Williams (18-1-3) vs. Centre (20-1-1)
Final four will be played in Kansas City, Missouri.

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