Falcons Battle With Emory, Falter Late
Grantham, PA - Messiah College women's soccer dropped a hard-fought battle to No. 6 Emory University on Saturday, falling 2-1 on a penalty kick in overtime. The Eagles' Clare Mullins knocked in the PK to the left side of the net moments after teammate Emily Feldman was fouled in the Falcons' box.
The goal brought to end a game that was evenly matched for most of the afternoon. Though each team found a few opportunities to score late, it seemed like the game was destined for a 1-1 draw. But in the seventh minute of overtime, the Eagles found themselves with a sudden opportunity to attack the midfield.
The play started down the left sideline, with the ball being shot towards the top of the Falcons' box. There, Messiah freshman Kate Shults came body-to-body with Feldman, with both of them hitting the ground while their legs tangled. With a foul called in the box, Emory took advantage of the game winning opportunity.
"Kate was in the game at that point because she's been playing really well," Messiah head coach Scott Frey said of the final play. "Their player managed to slip through, and Kate found herself in a tough spot. Our entire team has to own that play."
For Messiah, ranked No. 1 in the NSCAA Top 25 Preseason Poll, it is their first loss since the 2010 NCAA Division III National Championship. It is also there first loss on Shoemaker Field since the Commonwealth Championship of 2006.
"Overall I think we played pretty well," Frey said. "(Emory) was very strong on the ball, and we still managed to get some great chances. We'll take the positives out of today, because I think we did play well."
Indeed, the Falcons did have a few chances to break the 1-1 tie, with seemingly all of their six second-half shots drawing gasps from the crowd in attendance.
"We weren't as clean on our touches as we'd like to be," Frey said of the Falcons' offensive opportunities. "We got a little rushed, and we paid for it late in the game."
As mentioned, it looked like the game was head for a tie after the teams traded goals in a five-minute span of the first half. Emory was the first to strike, with Karina Rodriguez knocking home a loose possession in front of the Messiah net. Falcons keeper Audra Larson had just made an impressive, diving save on a shot by Feldman, but her deflection kicked off the left post and landed at the feet of Rodriguez.
Undeterred, Messiah responded in less than five minutes. A cross into the box from senior Alex Brandt found sophomore Hannah Weyland, with her eventual shot deflection off an Eagles' defender and to freshman Trisha Tshudy. Tshudy's strike with her left foot went on the ground and to the right side of the goal for the equalizer.
The game remained tied at halftime and through the second half as the temperature on the field continued to be hover in the mid-80's. With both teams battling for a chance to win, it would be Mullins' PK that would end the afternoon.
The Eagles took 10 shots to the Falcons' nine, with Emory also attempting three corner kicks against Messiah's zero. Larson collected three saves in the net.
For Emory, the game moves them 1-0 in 2012. The Falcons fall to 1-1, and will next play on Wednesday, September 5, at No. 3 Johns Hopkins University. It will be the second of three-straight games against teams ranked in the top six of the NSCAA (No. 6 Emory and No. 2 William Smith).
"This stretch is going to make us better," Frey said of his team's challenging schedule. "We'll compete hard and get better each time out. These are tough opponents, but they're great character builders for us. The adversity gives us a chance to see how we'll respond."
Added Frey, "I believe we're a good team, and we're going to do well."