Messiah pushes past Scranton in shutout, moves on to semifinals
YORK, Pa. – Messiah earned a 3-0 win against Scranton to earn a trip to the NCAA semifinals. The Falcons scored twice in the second half to pull away from Scranton, with Brian Ramirez, Mike Kovach and Aaron Myers each scoring for Messiah.
“We were a little fortunate to get past York,” head coach Brad McCarty said. “While we did catch a few breaks, we've also made an impact on our fortune with our strong play.”
Messiah controlled possession during the match, testing the Royals' defense with passing in and out of the midfield. A free kick opportunity for Josh Kremers sailed just high of the crossbar in the third minute of the game, almost giving the Falcons the lead.
Still scoreless, the Royals managed little in their counter against the Falcons' defense. Luke Helmuth broke open the Royals' two attacks into the penalty box, with Scranton unable to attempt even one shot in the first half.
Messiah's control finally broke through in the 25th minute of play, with Jeremy Payne dropping back to Brian Ramirez on the right side of midfield. In an instant, Ramirez took a quick touch and fired to the right side of the goal. Screaming low across the turf, the ball hit off the inside of the right post and caromed into the goal.
The goal was Ramirez's sixth of the season, and proved to be the game-winner.
The Falcons nearly added a second goal before the half, with freshman Bryant Myers attacking through the midfield and slotting a ball through the left side to Aaron Myers. A quick touch by Aaron was followed by a shot near the left post, right into the hands of keeper James Dillon.
After passing through halftime, the Falcons continued to dominate possession. Just over 11 minutes into the frame, Kovach scored his third goal in two days to give his team a 2-0 lead. His score came with a serve from the right side past Dillon for the 2-0 lead.
“When we move the ball well, we look good,” McCarty said. “I think our ball movement...was too much for [Scranton].”
Less than 10 minutes after his team earned a 2-0 lead, Messiah keeper Brandon West turned away the Royals' best attempt to get on the board. His save came on a header by Patrick Daly in the middle of the box, a sharp redirect of a left-sided serve from Tom O'Connor. Prepared for the shot, West jumped up to punch Daly's shot over the crossbar.
Meanwhile, junior Aaron Myers provided the exclamation point for Messiah with a score in the 85th minute. Attacking down the left side of the field, Myers cut in below the corner of the 18-yard line and weaved through two Scranton defenders before launching a shot from five yards off the post. The ball darted under Dillon for the goal—Myers' first of the year.
“I think this is a good team,” McCarty said of the Falcons. “We're well-rounded, with a good keeper, six guys that are solid in the backfield and dynamic players up front.
“It's hard to win 20-plus games in a season, so we're excited to still be playing.”
The loss ends Scranton's season at 17-3-2, with its run into the Sectional Final including an upset of Stevens. This season was the Royals' first NCAA berth since 1993.