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.
This season marks the tenth time in the last 12 years that Messiah will advance to the NCAA semifinal.
“We were a little fortunate to get past York [Saturday],” 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 throughout the game on Sunday, testing the Royals’ defense. 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, Luke Helmuth held off the Royals’ two attacks in the penalty box, with Scranton unable to get any shot attempts in the first half.
In the 25th minute of play, Jeremy Payne dropped back to Brian Ramirez on the right side of midfield. Ramirez took a quick touch and fired into the right side of the goal.
The goal was Ramirez’s sixth on the season, and would prove to be the game-winner.
The Falcons nearly added a second goal before the half, with freshman Bryant Myers slotting a ball through the left side to Aaron Myers. A quick touch by Myers was followed by a shot near the left post, but it was saved by keeper James Dillon.
Coming out of halftime, the Falcons continued to dominate possession. Just over 11 minutes into the frame, Kovach scored to give his team a 2-0 lead. The ball went to Payne near the left post, and then back to Ramirez before he fed Kovach on the right edge of the box. His shot came from 10 yards off the right post, a strong strike past Dillon for the 2-0 lead.
“When we move the ball well, we look good,” McCarty said. “I think our ball movement [Sunday] was too much for [Scranton].”
Nine minutes later, Messiah keeper Brandon West turned away the Royals’ best attempt to get on the board. His save came on a header by Patrick Daly, a sharp redirect of a left-sided serve from Tom O’Connor.
Junior Aaron Myers provided an extra point cushion 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.
The loss ends Scranton’s season at 17-3-2. This was the Royals’ first NCAA berth since 1993.
“I think Scranton is a good team,” McCarty said. “They defend well and they’re organized. I thought they did a good job of staying in the game for as long as they did.”
With the win, Messiah qualifies for the semifinals for the tenth time in the past 12 years. It is the Falcons’ first appearance since earning three consecutive national championships from 2008-2010.