Falcons Attack Lions To Advance To Commonwealth Championship
Grantham, PA – The Messiah Falcons scored three goals in Thursday's Commonwealth Championships semifinal game to defeat Albright 3-0. With the victory, Messiah advances to the conference finals game on Saturday, November 5.
The game started off quickly for the Falcons on Thursday, as the team launched five shots in the opening four minutes of play. Two crosses into the box were turned into open looks by junior Alex Brandt and senior Erin Hench, with one sailling wide and the other finding the hands of Lions keeper Olivia Giulano.
In the 13th minute of play, senior Leah Sipe extended past a defender to toe a shot from the middle of the box, only to see it slice off the left post.
The shot left the crowd anxious for a Falcons' score, and Sipe would deliver that score only a few minutes later.
In the 21st minute of play, junior Liz Phillips played a long chip into the middle of the box where Sipe directed the ball off her head and past Giuliano. The score gave Messiah a 1-0 lead.
"We wanted to go out and play as a team, keeping possesion of the ball," said Sipe, a leader in the Falcons' midfield. "We're playing well as a team and creating good opportunities."
Despite a total of 13 shots in the first half, the Falcons were kept out of the net for the remainder of the frame. Giuliano made six saves in the half, many off of open looks for Messiah.
"I thought (Giuliano) was fanstastic tonight for Albright," said Messiah head coach Scott Frey. "She did a great job staying active in the net."
In the second half, Messiah's offensive pressure continued as they launched an incredible 26 shots through the Albright defense.
In the 53rd minute, another shot from Sipe would find the net. The open look from just oustide the 18-yard line came off a defensive clearing from the Lions. The ball found it's way to Sipe, however, who rocketed the ball past Giuliano's diving attempt.
Just five minutes later, senior Jess Shirk would put the game away. Teammate Erin Hench took the ball aggressively down the right side, cutting towards the post, find Shirk across the box for a score on the left side. The goal completed the scoring on the night, as the Falcons' defense allowed zero shots to the Lions in the second half, preserving the score.
In the game, Messiah outshot the Lions 39-2, with Giuliano making 17 saves in a terrific effort. Messiah keeper Autumn Reilly was untested in the Falcons' goal.
"As always, it's about ball movement and possession for us," said Frey, whose team is looking for their fifth straight Commonwealth Championship. "We created good chances for ourselves and good things happened. Also, our back row was great on defense."
The Falcons will now plan to host Lebanon Valley College on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. in the conference finals. The game will be a rematch from the Falcons' 2-0 win in mid-October over the Dutchmen.
"We're looking forward to playing LVC again," said Sipe. "They played us hard and they're a good team. I think we've improved since then, so we're excited to continue playing well."