Venegas Leads Tartans to NCAA Victory

Venegas Leads Tartans to NCAA Victory

(PITTSBURGH, Pa.) - Carnegie Mellon University junior Alex Venegas's (Los Angeles, Calif./Harvard-Westlake) two-goal game led the Tartans to a 3-0 win in the third round of the 2012 NCAA Division III Women's Soccer Championship on Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh, Pa. The #17 Tartans defeated #25 Wheaton (Mass.) College to advance to the quarterfinals on Sunday.

In the fifth minute, freshman Louisa Pendergast (Snohomish, Wash./Glacier Peak) put a pass forward to senior Brianna Magill (Oak Brook, Ill./Downers Grove North) who was marked by a Wheaton defender inside the 18-yard box. Magill took a touch on the ball and was able to tip it back to Venegas who one-timed a shot with her left foot high and to the near post over Wheaton keeper Taylor Wilson for her fifth goal of the year and the Tartans 1-0 advantage.

Five minutes later senior midfielder Stephanie Hare (Atlanta, Ga./The Westminster Schools) fired a shot in the run of play from near half field which sailed over Wilson and hit the crossbar. Magill was there to settle the rebound but a Wheaton defender closed the gap before Magill had an open shot. However, Magill was able to win the loose ball but her shot wasn't strong enough and Wilson dived on it before it crossed the line.

Venegas struck for the second time in the 18th minute when she collected a loose ball and fired a shot with her right foot from 15 yards through traffic high and right over Wilson.

Wheaton got their first shot on frame in the 28th minute when Tara Caney put a shot low and through traffic right at Tartan junior keeper Anna Albi (Cincinnati, Ohio/Summit Country Day) who made the save.

The Tartans continued to take their shots at the Wheaton net as in the 31st minute a header shot by Savina Reid following a corner kick to the far post by junior Rachel Contopoulos (Oakland, Calif./Berkeley) was headed for the back of the net but was punched out by Wilson for the save.

A minute later sophomore Courtney Brant (Davie, Fla./Archbishop McCarthey) took a ball from the corner of the 18-yard box and dribbled around two defenders to make a square pass across the box to Reid who flicked it with the outside of her foot to Venegas who's one-time shot went just wide of the left post.

Pendergast had a shot of her own from near 30 yards sail just over the crossbar and Reid caused Wilson to make another save in the 38th minute after Contopoulos crossed a ball inside the box that Reid ran through the box and deflected toward the net.

In the second half, Magill had a shot go wide in the 49th minute while senior Mitra Ebrahimi (Bethesda, Md./Walter Johnson) pushed a shot wide following a corner kick.

In the 53rd minute, Hare turned outside the box and fired a shot low that glanced off a defender before Wilson dove to the corner for the save.

Contopoulos gave the Tartans a three-goal lead in the 67th minute with her first strike of the season.

The play started with a throw-in by Brant who used a flip throw to put the ball in the middle of the 18-yard box. The ball landed at the foot of Venegas who rolled it behind her to Contopoulos who charged in and calmly finished the shot low to the far post.

Once again, central defenders Lauren Simicich (Floral Park, N.Y./Floral Park Memorial) and Ebrahimi with outside backs Brittany Couture (Santa Barbara, Calif./Santa Barbara), Contopoulos and Jenna Asperslag (Carlsbad, Calif./San Dieguito Academy) off the bench secured the area in front of Albi in net for the Tartans' sixth straight shutout.

The Tartans will now face #16 Emory University in the quarterfinals at home in Pittsburgh at 1:30 p.m. on Sundy. The University Athletic Association opponents played two weeks ago and tied after two overtime periods to end the regular season.