Falcons Come Back From Early Hole, Push Past Lebanon Valley 3-2
Annville, PA – The Falcons won't call it a magical comeback, but it probably seemed as much to their hosts.
Messiah College came all the way back from an early 0-2 deficit on Saturday, scoring three goals in the second half to defeat Lebanon Valley College 3-2. The Falcons scored the game-tying and game-winning goals in a 57-second span with less than six minutes to play, stunning the Dutchmen as they were attempting to become the first Commonwealth opponent to defeat Messiah in a regular-season contest since 2000.
Entering the game with a 7-5 record, including 3-1 in the Commonwealth Conference, Lebanon Valley took a shocking and commanding 2-0 lead in the 32nd minute of play. Lindi Crist put home a free-kick attempt from 30 yards out to give the Dutchmen a 1-0 lead— an advantage doubled just 20 seconds later on a goal by reigning Commonwealth Co-Player of the Year Nicole Snyder. Her score came on the rebound from a shot off the post by teammate Heather Tran.
And just like that, Messiah was down 0-2. The deficit was the largest faced by the Falcons since the 2010 NCAA Division III National Championship against Hardin-Simmons University.
But on Saturday, and unlike that 2-1 loss to Hardin-Simmons two years ago, the 0-2 hole would not be insurmountable.
The Falcons' cut the into the Dutchmen's lead in the 63rd minute, with freshman Kyele Bridel notching her second goal of the season after being subbed into the game just three minutes prior.
Now ahead by a single goal, the Dutchmen fought furiously to protect their lead. With a homecoming day crowd in attendance, Lebanon Valley would hold their 2-1 advantage through the 84th minute.
Then, things would quickly turn to the Falcons' favor.
With just 5:38 left to play, junior Alicia Frey made good on an assist by classmate Emily Schneider to knot the game at 2-2. The goal was Frey's eighth of the season.
Now with the game's momentum, the Falcons took a 3-2 lead just 57 seconds later on a goal by senior Rachel Scheibeler. Her score came on a shot to the right side of the goal, with the ball crossing through the hands of Lebanon Valley keeper Sami Young.
The goal was Scheibeler's seventh of the season, as Messiah scored at least three goals for the fifth-straight game. Most importantly, it proved to the game-winner for a Messiah team that turned their afternoon around in dramatic fashion.
The game's result was surely the product of different halves by each team. Lebanon Valley outshot the Falcons nine to six in the first half, but Messiah recovered to score their three goals on just seven shots in the second half. The Dutchmen attempted just three shots in the last 45 minutes. Messiah keeper Audra Larson and the Dutchmen's Young each made three saves.
For Messiah, ranked No. 2 in the most recent NSCAA Top 25 Poll, the win moves them to 12-1-1 on the season, including 5-0 in the Commonwealth.
The two goals for Lebanon Valley are the most they've ever scored against the Falcons, as they were close to becoming the first conference team to down the Falcons in a regular-season game since Moravian earned a 1-0 win on the last day of the regular season of 2000. Nevertheless, the loss on Saturday drops the Dutchmen to 7-6 overall, 3-2 in the conference.
With the thrilling comeback completed, the Falcons will look forward to next game on Tuesday, Oct. 16. On that day, Messiah will play host to Lycoming College at 7:00 p.m.