Preview: Big day in Greensboro with four games at Division III championships

Meetings of Chicago neighbors and two former champions on the men's side and four teams with a combined record of 84-2-2 in women's play highlight the NCAA Division III semifinals, which will be played Thursday at the UNCG Soccer Stadium in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Men's Division III Semifinals:
Brandeis vs. Messiah, 5 pm ET
Chicago vs. North Park, 7:30 ET

Brandeis (17-4-0). The Judges, Division III champions in 1976 with small college great Cleveland Lewis, return to the final four for the second year in a row after going 32 years between final four appearances. They certainly earned it, beating unbeaten Drew, 1-0, on a goal by Mike Lynch and defending champion Tufts, 1-0, on Patrick Flahive's golden goal the next day. Keeper Ben Woodhouse hasn't allowed a goal in the postseason, collecting 17 saves in four NCAA Tournament games, including seven against Tufts.

Messiah (22-2-0). The Falcons have won 10 NCAA Division III championships since 2000 and qualified for 15 final fours but are back in semifinals for the first time since winning back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013. MAC Commonwealth Offensive Player of the Year Kirby Robbins leads Messiah with 14 goals and six assists.

North Park (20-1-1). The Vikings, who never made it past the second round in six previous NCAA Tournament appearances, take a 20-game unbeaten streak into the semifinals. The wins include a 1-0 victory over city rival Chicago, which they face in the semifinals. Four North Park players have 20 or more points: Carel Kawele (15 goals, 6 assists), Peder Nalum Olsen (10, 9), Shatil Khoury (10, 2) and Gustav Ericsson (5, 10).

Chicago (19-2-1). The Maroons haven't lost since dropping back-to-back games to Emory (3-0) and North Park in mid-season. They avenged that loss to Emory with a shootout win in the sectional finals and get a second chance against North Park on Thursday. Chicago has a potent attack led by UAA MVP Max Lopez (19  goals, 4 assists) and Matthew Koh (10, 11). Kayo Adeosun is second in the nation with 15 assists.

Road to Greensboro: Men's & Women's Division III

Women's Division III Semifinals:
Chicago vs. TCNJ, 11 am ET
Hardin-Simmons  vs. Williams, 1:30 pm ET

Chicago (21-1-0). The Maroons beat Wisconsin-La Crosse, 4-0, to clinch back-to-back appearances at the Division III final four and their fifth overall. Chicago, which has won its four postseason games by a margin of 13-0, feature four first-team all-region players: Jenna McKinney, the two-time UAA Player of the Year with 15 goals and six assists, Mia Calamari, who ranks second in NCAA Division III in assists with 18, goalkeeper Katie Donovan, who has only allowed two goals for a 0.19 goals-against average, and defender
Mackenzie Peebles.

TCNJ (20-0-1). The Lions have outscored their opponents, 74-5. Their only tie came in the shootout win over Messiah that sent them to the semifinals. They won national titles in 1993, 1994 and 2000 but the last of their 11 appearances in the final four came in 2009. Christine Levering (16 goals, 5 assists) is one of five players with eight or more goals.

Hardin-Simmons (23-0-0). The Cowgirls are riding a 45-game unbeaten streak dating back to a 1-0 loss in the season opener last year. (They fell on penalty kicks to eventual champion Washington, Mo., in the 2016 NCAA Tournament.) Kenne Kessler leads the nation in goals with 37 while fellow junior Josey Meyer leads the nation with 24 assists. They are among five all-region selections along with goalkeeper Caitlin Christiansen and defenders Kendell Groom and Kirsten Parrish.

Williams (20-1-1). The Ephs are playing in the final four for the third time in the last four years after they defeated Johns Hopkins, 3-0, in the quarterfinal round. The senior class led by Natasha Albaneze, who scored twice against Johns Hopkins, has won a school record 80 games over four years and reached the final eight all four years. Senior defender Danielle Sim was named the 2017 New England Small College Player of the Year, the first defender to earn the honor.

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