Falcons Defeat Dutchmen, Advance to Commonwealth Final
Grantham, PA – Marisa Weaver tallied twice and Messiah College held Lebanon Valley to just a single shot in a 4-0 win in the Commonwealth Championship Semifinal. With the win the Falcons advance to Saturday where they'll host the conference final against Stevenson.
The Falcons finished with a 16-1 edge in shots, with their first shot of the night going for a goal after just 85 seconds of play. Macaulay Soto started the play with a through ball from the middle of the field to Corinne Wulf in the left side of the box. Wulf took the ball toward the end line where she crossed on the ground to the far side. Burgard ran onto the serve near the edge of the six-yard box and, in what looked like an extremely small angle to the goal, put a sharp one touch past Amanda Sykes for a 1-0 lead.
The early goal foreshadowed the Falcons' dominance from start to finish as they controlled territory and limited the Dutchmen attack. The goal also seemed surprising since it took Messiah more than 49 minutes to score against Lebanon Valley in their 2-0, regular-season win.
"That first goal was big for us," Messiah head coach Scott Frey said. "It really took the pressure off since we knew (Lebanon Valley) was going to work hard. They play similar to us, so we knew it could be a challenge to get a rhythm and a flow. That early score was huge."
The Falcons outshot the Dutchmen 9-1 in the first-half and received a second goal in the 33rd minute from Weaver. The goal came suddenly after Mackenzie Clapper took away possession from the Dutchmen in the midfield. She quickly pressed forward and led Kyele Bridel to the right end line where she sent a high cross to the center of the box. Near the six-yard line Weaver leaped for a header that tucked inside the right side of the goal.
The goal was her fifth of the season and sent Messiah into the half with a 2-0 advantage.
Messiah continued to wear down the Dutchmen in the second-half and scored twice more. Erin Sollenberger scored her third goal of the season in the 64th minute after Soto played her through the midfield against the run of play. Sollenberger and defender Alexa Muffly came together with keeper Becca Sykes outside of the 18 where Sykes' clear hit off Sollenberger and towards the goal where the Messiah stepped forward for a shot on the open net.
"That was big-time effort by Erin to get that third goal," Frey said, commenting on Sollenberger's hustle to beat Muffly and Sykes to the ball. "She got the break by working hard, and sometimes it takes a little extra to make something happen."
Weaver picked up the first two-goal game of her career in the 79th minute as she, similar to Sollenberger, was played towards the Lebanon Valley goal against the run of play. She ran onto one touch into the box and sent a hard strike past Sykes to finish the scoring.
"Our second group gave a really good effort tonight," Frey said of Weaver, Sollenberger, and the rest of the Messiah substitutes. "They were attacking, held field position, and it's neat to see some of younger players start to come along.
"I thought our defense was fantastic tonight, too," Frey continued, commenting on the Falcons' seventh-straight shutout. "I thought Ashley was really great tonight and our group as a whole did exactly what we needed them to do."
The loss for Lebanon Valley most likely ends their season at 11-8-2. Messiah moves to 17-2-1 and will, as mentioned, host Stevenson University on Saturday in the Commonwealth Championship Final. The Mustangs defeated Elizabethtown 2-0 earlier in the day to advance to Saturday's final.
Game time for Saturday is set for 5:00 p.m.