No. 8 Messiah dispatches Lasell
By Chris Shirk, D3soccer.com
Lasell played the defending champion Messiah even for the opening 45 minutes, before getting blind-sided by three quick Falcon strikes within ten minutes following the interval. Despite their powder blue uniforms, the Lasers weren't mistaken for Johns Hopkins, but their put their best foot forward and it proved to be a pretty good foot. They earned a corner kick less than three minutes in and at the 7:31' mark, Bridget Lynch got behind the defense to go one-on-one with the goalkeeper but her shot was tame and pushed wide of the right post. But it sent a message that this would not be a formality for the Falcons and that Lasell was not just going to pack it in and take their chances with an occasional counter-attack.
Nevertheless, Messiah would open the scoring in the 15th minute when Nikki Elsaesser made a goal out of a seemingly harmless ball just a foot from endline wide right, chipping back across goal skimming off the keepers' fingers and off the far post and rebounding just inside the goal line. Lasell did not change their approach and pack it in which resulted in a number of offensive forays and corner kicks in the middle part of the half. And that commitment to attack was rewarded in the 28th minute. A cleared corner kick fell for Sarah Jones outside the area on the left and spotting Arianna DiOrio in the box she served the perfect ball to DiOrio's foot and a simple touch to redirect the ball on goal did the trick, just beyond the reach of the goaltender and inside the right post. All even.
Messiah would have the better chances in the final quarter hour of the half, but nothing to show for it and the half ended tied 1-1. Lasell had ever reason to feel very good about their play and the way the game had played out, but it was a short-lived feeling as Messiah would capitalize on their early second half chances to net three times before the Lasers knew what happened. The goals were well taken, especially the second of the three. Nikki Elseasser gathered the rebound of her own blocked shot on the right side of the 6-yard box and, seeing that the keeper hadn't had time to get back on her line, lofted the ball back and over her and into the goal.
The 4-1 advantage certainly took the edge off the game. Lasell didn't fold, but Messiah was clearly in control from that point forward, and the outcome was never in doubt. Lasell would create some chances, but most were generated by Messiah who clearly responded to whatever the instructions Coach Scott Frey gave them at halftime. Coach Frey admitted after the game that he was surprised that Lasell came at the Falcons the way they did. "We knew about No. 5, but their pace on the outside was a surprise. That they came out in a 3-5-2 was a surprise and it's a tough match-up for us." Messiah goalkeeper Audra Larson admitted that the Falcons "weren't working with enough intensity" in the first half, while Lasell brought "pressure and intensity and speed". Coach Frey agreed that his team "played apprehensive" in the first half, and there were no major adjustments to be made.
Messiah now awaits the winner of the Amherst-Springfield game that follows.