Falcons Score Four to Shutout Mustangs
Owings Mills, MD – Playing for the first time against conference newcomer Stevenson University, the Messiah College Falcons welcomed the Mustangs to the Commonwealth in the only way they knew: they scored a bunch of goals.
The Falcons tallied two goals in each half on Saturday, winning 4-0 on the Mustangs' home field to start their 2012 conference season 1-0. The win also moves Messiah, ranked No. 3 in the most recent NSCAA Top 25 Poll, to 8-1-1 overall.
The game started off quickly on Steveson's turf, with Messiah turning back their host's few attempts to push up the field. With the Falcons consistently holding possession, they broke the scoreless tie in just the 14th minute of play. Freshman Nikki Elsaesser sent a lateral pass from the right side into the midfield, leading senior Alex Brandt on a run across the 18-yard line. With space in front, Brandt took a quick touch forward before firing a shot past Stevenson keeper Lauren Weitzman.
The score was Brandt's fifth goal on the season.
Less than a minute later, Brandt would be in the middle of the action again. Pressing forward through the midfield, Brandt delivered a ball through the Mustangs' defense to lead classmate Rachel Scheibeler into the penalty box. By way of a quick step past her defender, Scheibeler met the ball for a strike as Weitzman closed out for the save. The shot went past the goalie's slide, across the goal line near the left post for the 2-0 Messiah advantage.
The goal was Scheibeler's third on the season, with Brandt increasing her team-leading assist total to five.
The quick lead for the Falcons was a product of their efficiency, as Brandt and Scheibeler scored on Messiah's third and fourth shot of the game, respectively. To that point, the Falcons almost added another goal on their next shot: an attempt by Lauren Federline from 20 yards out that was saved at the post by a diving Weitzman.
Messiah would attempt only those five shots in the first half, settling for a 2-0 lead at the intermission. Weitzman collected two saves through the first 45 minutes, with her offensive teammates attempting just two shots on the Falcons' goal.
In the second half, the Mustangs would find an early chance to narrow their deficit. Playing through the midfield, forward Catherine Madden attacked into the Falcons' penalty box before being turned out to the left side. Madden's pass went to the left wing for Alexa Narron, with her shot from 25 yards out being caught by Messiah keeper Audra Larson on the goal line.
Though Stevenson would collect one more shot, Narron's attempt would be the closest they would come to tallying a score. Meanwhile, the Falcons' offensive pressure doubled their lead in a span of two minutes.
In the 57th minute, Brandt drove the Messiah possession from the left side of the turf and into the midfield. After splitting two of the Mustangs' defenders 30 yards out, she fed junior Alicia Frey on her run towards the right corner of the penalty box. Frey took a quick touch to her right before cutting the ball back into the middle, firing a shot over Weitzman and into the top-left corner of the goal.
Exactly two minutes later, the Falcons would add a fourth goal off the foot of Nikki Elsaesser. She scored after being played a ball over the Stevenson defense, with her one-on-one attack with Weitzman ending with a perfect shot beyond the keeper's dive and into the right side of the net.
The goal for Frey was number four this season, with Elsaesser's score tying Brandt for the team's lead (5).
Messiah's five shots in the second frame matched their output from the first half, as they finished with four goals on those 10 shots. Weitzman finished with two saves, with Larson also collecting two saves in net.
With the loss, Stevenson drops their first-ever Commonwealth contest and falls to 6-4 overall.
Messiah will next face Alvernia University on Tuesday, October 2. The game will take place in Reading, Pa., at 7:00 p.m.