Cortland Sports Information Department
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Nick West scored three second-half goals to lead the nationally top-ranked and defending national champion Messiah men's soccer team to a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over sixth-ranked Cortland in the third round of the NCAA Div. III Men's Soccer Tournament Saturday in Rochester.
The Falcons improved to 19-0-3 and advanced to the national quarterfinals, Sunday at 1 p.m., to face the winner of Eastern versus Rochester with a berth in the "final four" on the line. The Red Dragons finished their season 17-3-3 and tied for ninth nationally.
Juniors Jake Keller (Wappingers Falls/Roy C. Ketcham) and Sam Fuller (Liverpool/Liverpool) scored Cortland's goals with senior Migell Ormsby (Kingston, Jamaica/DeWitt Clinton) and junior Miguel Tunas (Carmel/North Salem) each collecting an assist. Junior goalie Sean Kelly (Coram/Newfield) registered four saves.
Jonathan Groothoff picked up an assist for Messiah. Goalie Connor Bell made three saves.
Keller gave the Red Dragons the lead in the 31st minute with his 19th goal of the season, finishing off a cross by Ormsby from the right side side with a low, hard shot. The lead held up into intermission as Messiah pressured Cortland over the final 14 minutes of the half.
In the second half, the Falcons continued to press, controlling much of the possession, eventually tying the game in the 70th minute when West headed in a cross from the right by Groothoff. Just under two minutes later, West put Messiah up, 2-1, driving a 29-yard direct kick into the upper left corner. The Falcons seemingly put the game away when West completed his hat trick, converting a penalty kick in the 86th minute.
As Messiah played to protect the lead, Tunas forced a turnover, carried into the box on the right side a fed a pass to Fuller who one-timed a shot from 18 yards out into an open goal to make it a 3-2 game with 3:09 remaining. Cortland continued to build on its momentum, creating a chance in the 88th minute off a long pass, but Keller fired wide left from the right side. With just over a minute to play, freshman Anthony Ruggiero (Holtsville/Sachem East) controlled possession on the left side of the box, and had his shot denied by Bell to protect Messiah's lead. The Red Dragons had one final chance, earning a corner kick in the closing seconds, but the serve went over the end line as Messiah claimed the 3-2 win.