Blue Jays' Kronick Answers Quickly, Scores Winner Over Messiah
Grantham, PA – Johns Hopkins junior Hannah Kronick stunned Messiah players and fans alike by scoring two goals in the second-half of the Blue Jays' 2-1 win over the Falcons on Wednesday night. Kronick's first goal came less than a minute after Messiah took a 1-0 lead on a tally by Nikki Elsaesser, and she added another with less than 20 minutes to play for the difference.
Elsaesser's score came in the 57th minute of play, when both teams seemed eager to take a lead. The sophomore, who leads with Messiah with four goals this season, followed up a misplayed ball in front of the goal after Ali Rogers served the possession from the right side.
But before the Falcons could even attempt to extend their lead, the Blue Jays and Kronick were celebrating their own score; Johns Hopkins played their possession up their midfield and managed to break through Messiah's defense to find Kronick open on the left side for a one-on-one with keeper Audra Larson.
"That is always a key part to any game—right after a goal is scored," said Messiah head coach Scott Frey. "I don't think we relaxed, but we maybe didn't play immediately with the same urgency we needed. It will be interesting to watch the video and see exactly what happened. When we score there, we have to be stronger because that's when (the Blue Jays) want to fight harder.
"If you relax, they have energy and they get even, and then they feel like their right back in the game."
Johns Hopkins proved as much after tying the game, as Kronick took a feed from Maria Touloumes in the 73rd minute and scored from the right side.
The win for the Blue Jays breaks a six-game losing streak to Messiah (dating back to 2009). It is also their first win over a No. 1-ranked team in program history.
For the first 45 minutes on Wednesday, both teams battled for possession in the midfield while testing each other's defenses for chances to score. Messiah seemed poised to take an early lead when, in just the third minute of the game, Marisa Weaver drilled a shot from 20 yards out from the center of the net; her shot went just over the reach of keeper Kelly Leddy and no less than six inches over the top of the crossbar.
JHU soon responded with their own dangerous moment, as Kronick was found on a run to the left side of the Blue Jays' attacking third. But just before she could gather herself for a shot, Kayla Deckert took the ball on a tackle and moved possession back to Messiah.
The Falcons tested the Blue Jays' defense a few other times in the first-half, most of which came in the final 10 minutes of the frame. Missy Biener was among those close to tallying for the hosts in that stretch, as she just missed running through a right-sided cross from Kyele Bridel to the far post.
Alicia Frey, too, almost put the Falcons ahead, this time with just eight seconds to go before the break, when she put a hard strike on ball deflected out from the Blue Jays' penalty box. Her shot from 25 yards straight out when on a line to Leddy's hands in the center of the goal, with both teams entering the half scoreless.
The second-half started with increased aggressiveness from both teams, with each opening up the field with their pressure and attack.
"We got them playing a little quicker in the second-half and started to create some chances," said Frey, commenting on Messiah's increased speed of play. "Overall, it was a great game and was very open end-to-end."
Like Frey said, Messiah's attack created more than a few good chances in the second-half. Corinne Wulf almost did the honors of scoring first in the 51st minute, but her open strike from 15 yards out on the right side of the box went wide of the near post as Leddy was still recovering for a possible save.
Moments later, though, Elsaesser gave the Falcons a 1-0 after Leddy was unable to corral a ball that ricocheted off midfielder Amanda Yaccarino.
"Our goal was a bit fortunate, but those are going to happen," said Frey. "We had some really good looks otherwise that we didn't take advantage of."
Those missed opportunities would cost Messiah (2-1), as Kronick led the Blue Jays to the win.
"They're a good team," said Frey of Johns Hopkins (3-0). "They're a team that will be around at the end of the season and hopefully we have a chance to see them again. Sure, we'd like tonight to be different, but this is why we play games like this—to get better."
The Falcons will have only a few days to put the loss behind them, as they will travel to No. 13 William Smith on Saturday for a match-up with another familiar rival.
"I told our team after (tonight's game) that what we need to work on tomorrow and how we need to prepare for Saturday—and for the rest of the season—was not dependent on if we won or lost this game," said Frey, commenting on his team moving forward from the defeat. "The only thing that might change is our urgency with which we approach those things. We'll just work to get better."