#1 Falcons Responds to Loss With Win Over #17 Juniata
By Cody Swartz, GoMessiah.com reporter
With that in mind, the Messiah Falcons (3-1) proved they are a great team, as they shut down the No. 17 ranked Juniata Eagles for 70 minutes, winning via a 2-0 shutout.
The Eagles were the fourth consecutive nationally-ranked team that Messiah has played; in fact, dating back to last year’s Commonwealth Conference championship, the Falcons have played nine straight opponents ranked in the top 20 of the nation, and remarkably, the Falcons have won seven of those games.
“We’re still working on getting things right,” said Jan Trapp, Messiah’s head field hockey coach. “The first half went very well for us. We reverted back to our old ways in the second half, but the team is still fairly young and they will get it together soon.”
The Falcons took an early 1-0 lead as sophomore Brooke Sands took a pass from junior Juliana Hershey off a penalty corner and sent it into the back of the net. The goal, scored at the 8:58 mark, gave the Falcons the early advantage, and when senior Kourtney Ehly scored unassisted at the 23:26 mark, the Falcons had a comfortable two-goal lead.
The Falcons – who outshot the Eagles 4-1 in the first half and won the penalty corner advantage 4-3 – weren’t quite as sharp in the second half, as the Hornets mustered six shots and six penalty corners, but the bottom line was that the Messiah defense held Juniata scoreless.
“Our defense played very well in the circle,” Trapp said. “Playing against a strong team (like Juniata) shows us our weaknesses, and what we need to work on, and we need to just keep cutting to the ball and playing aggressive.”
Goalkeepers Kayleigh Stewart and Molly Gebrosky split time in the goal, combining for one save.
For Messiah, it was their third straight win against Juniata, as the Falcons kicked off each of their last two seasons against the Eagles, and have now outscored Juniata 11-1 during those three games.
Messiah will face arguably its biggest test of the season on Tuesday, as the No. 1 ranked Falcons will travel to Salisbury University to take on the No. 2 ranked Sea Gulls. Considering that the Falcons lost this past Tuesday against the Hornets, by the time these two teams play, Messiah may be No. 2 and Salisbury No. 1, but regardless of the rankings, it will be a heavyweight fight. “We just need to do the things we have been working on,” Trapp said.
“We need to cut to the ball and not let them get ahead of us. They are very conditioned, very talented, and a supreme team. We have shown we can score, and we just need to collect the ball better.”