Athletics

A Closer Look at Messiah College

No soccer program at any level has been more successful this decade than Messiah. Making their fifth straight appearance in the Final Four and the eighth in program history, the Falcons won the national title in 2000 and 2002 before claiming three straight championships from 2004 to 2006.

In the past five years, Messiah has posted an unbelievable 109-8-4 record, winning at least 20 games in each season and finishing a perfect 24-0 in 2005. Head coach Dave Brandt (Messiah ’85) is the winningest active men’s college coach in the country, and no coach in any NCAA division has reached 200 career wins faster.

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Although this year’s squad brings a 20-2-2 record to Greensboro as winners of 11 straight (outscoring opponents 36-3 in the last 11 games), the road to the Final Four has been a challenging one. After defeating Medaille College in overtime in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, Messiah scored in the fourth minute against Rochester and hung on for a 1-0 victory. The Falcons were paired with unbeaten Montclair State (21-0) in the Sectional semifinals, and it took two overtime periods to determine a winner, with the Falcons scoring the game’s lone goal in the 105th minute.

Messiah needed two overtimes and a little bit of magic from senior JD Binger to advance to its fifth straight Final Four, defeating host Christopher Newport by a 2-1 score in one of the most bizarre contests in program history. Playing a man up from the 33rd minute on and having a two-man advantage from the 65th minute forward, the Falcons needed a goal from Binger with exactly one minute remaining in regulation to tie things at 1-1 and save the season. Sophomore Geoff Pezon then scored the game-winner 2:58 into the second overtime, marking the most overtime periods in a single tournament within the program’s history.

Pezon also scored the game-winner against Medaille in the opening round, as his 19 goals and 10 assists make him one of the most dangerous offensive threats in the country in only his second collegiate season. Just as impressive has been junior goalkeeper Jared Clugston, who has posted eight shutouts with a 0.49 goals-against average and a .750 save percentage.

The Falcons last played at Greensboro’s Macpherson Stadium in 2005, when they earned a 3-0 victory over Gustavus Adolphus to cap off a perfect 24-0 season with another national title. Winning a sixth national title would set a Division III record, as UNC Greensboro has also won five national championships.

For more information on the Falcons, visit the official team Website.