Falcons Feast on Blue Jays, Win 3-0
Grantham, PA - It's one of the most fierce rivalries in all of NCAA Division III athletics for many reasons- the dramatic goals, the spirited play, the passionate fans, and yes, even the marshmallows. On Thursday night in Grantham, it was all on display.
The Messiah men's soccer team defeated Elizabethtown 3-0 in the Commonwealth Conference semifinals, winning against the Blue Jays for the second time in four days.
The win gives the Falcons advancement to the Commonwealth Championship finals on Saturday, where they will be opposed by Alvernia University.
"We talked about giving ourselves a chance to play for the championship on Saturday," said Messiah head coach Brad McCarty. "We had to get through a tough E-Town team, and they played us well. I was especially proud of our guys for getting a shutout."
The game started out choppy for both teams, with possession unable to be clean and controlled by either squad. Though Messiah would launch 14 shots in the first half, they would not find a superb opportunity until the 29th minute.
Freshman Jack Thompson delivered the ball from the midfield to his teammate, and older brother, Danny Thompson for a strong rip from 23 yards out. The ball was deflected upward by Blue Jay keeper Eric Carr, appearing to land over the goal. Instead, the ball fell just short of the cross bar, bouncing once and into the net. It took a moment for Thompson, and the fans, to realize that the ball crossed the goal line.
"I knew I hit it hard, but I thought he knocked it over," said Thompson of his game winning score. "I couldn't believe it went in, but it's cool that it did."
The score would remain unchanged through halftime, with Jack Thompson adding his own score just seven minutes into the second half. Assisted by senior Derek Black, Jack's shot was a powered strike from 25 yards out on the right side. Again, the ball was initially blocked by Carr before ricocheting into the top, right corner of the goal.
With Messiah now in control, senior Derek Black would put the game away with Messiah's third goal only three minutes later. His attack middle opened up a left-footed strike from the same spot as Jack Thompson's, a blast that soared past Carr for the final tally.
Black's goal was his second in four days against the Blue Jays, who lost 2-0 to Messiah in the Monday's regular season finale for both teams.
"Coming in, we knew we had to mark their midfielders better," said McCarty, whose team will look for their fifth straight conference title on Saturday. "We tried to focus on execution and getting quality crosses. We did get those opportunities, even though E-Town did a good job of pressuring the ball and making it difficult."
With the win, Messiah moves to 17-0-1 on the season. Their Saturday match-up with Alvernia will be a rematch of their 1-0 victory over the Crusaders in Grantham just two weeks ago.
Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. Admission costs for the Commonwealth Championship final will be $5.00 for adults, $4.00 for senior citizens, and $2.00 for students. Children age six and under will be admitted free of charge.