Falcons Erupt Early, Advance In Commonwealth
Grantham, PA – Messiah College women's soccer opened Friday's Commonwealth Semifinal with three goals in the game's first 13 minutes, defeating Lebanon Valley College by the score of 4-0 to advance to the conference finale on Sunday, Nov. 4.
Senior Rachel Scheibeler scored twice for Messiah, while classmate Alex Brandt collected two assists as the Falcons won in convincing fashion. Seeded No. 1 in the Commonwealth Tournament, Messiah will look to defend their five-straight conference titles when they host No. 2 seed Stevenson University on Sunday at 12:00 noon.
Stevenson advanced to the championship with a 0-0 (3-2 PK) decision over No. 3 seed Elizabethtown.
Friday's semifinal match-up between the Falcons and Dutchmen was highly anticipated, as Lebanon Valley was the only conference opponent to hold a lead over the Falcons this season. Up 2-0 over Messiah on Oct. 13, Lebanon Valley gave up three second half goals to the Falcons to lose 3-2.
On Friday, Messiah's damage was done in the first half.
Senior Elizabeth Phillips opened the scoring in the 9th minute, putting one touch on a cross from Brandt into the net. Taken from the left side of the penalty spot, Phillips shot would lead to her fourth goal on the season.
Scheibeler—who with Phillips and Brandt was named to the All-Commonwealth teams earlier in the day—put Messiah up 2-0 just 63 seconds later. Attacking into the box on the right side, Scheibeler's first attempt at a score would be saved by LVC keeper Sami Young. With the ball bouncing off Young, Scheibeler's second attempt would cross the goal line for the score.
Scheibeler's second goal would come less than four minutes later, as she received a pass across the midfield from Brandt. Taking possession and turning to the right side of the field, Scheibeler fired a shot from 25 yards out to draw acclaim from the 800-plus fans in attendance.
Up 3-0 just 13 minutes into play, Friday's semifinal immediately proved to be a different game than the one these two teams played three weeks ago. Still, LVC battled Messiah from start to finish. Indeed, it was the Dutchmen who almost took a 1-0 lead just minutes into the game as Heather Tran played a through ball to Nicole Snyder in the Falcons' box. Streaking behind the Messiah defense, Snyder's reach fell just short of the ball as Messiah keeper Audra Larson corralled possession.
The Dutchmen would find a few other chances at a score, too, tallying six shots in the first half. Larson made two saves in the first half, and made two more in the second half as LVC would attempt another four shots.
Messiah, though, proved to be most effective with their shot attempts. Taking 12 total shots in the game, the Falcons connected on four goals while forcing Young to make saves on two other attempts.
One shot Young could not save would be off the head of freshman Macaulay Soto, as her header off a corner from sophomore Regina Stump put Messiah up 4-0 in the 39th minute of play.
Soto's goal would complete the scoring on the night, as Messiah would finish with a 4-0 win and trip to the Commonwealth Championship.
Lebanon Valley drops to 11-7-1 on the season, including 6-2-1 in the Commonwealth regular season. The loss effectively ends their season.
Messiah, ranked No. 1 in the NSCAA Top 25 Poll and No. 1 in the Commonwealth Tournament, moves to 17-1-1 with the win. As mentioned, the Falcons will host No. 2 seed Stevenson University in the conference finale on Sunday at 12:00 noon.