Nov. 13, 2010

Courtesy of Messiah Athletics

Glassboro, NJ —
It may have been a shock to some that Messiah was on the road for the opening weekend of the NCAA Division III Tournament. There could be only one explanation for such an event.

The NCAA wanted to show off the top-ranked Falcons.

Despite the Manhattanville Colleges Valiant-sized effort, it wasnt enough to thwart Messiah, as four different goal scorers helped the Falcons to a 4-0 win at Rowan Universitys soccer complex Saturday morning — advancing the Falcons into Sundays NCAA Second Round.

Regardless of the games location, it was all Messiah Saturday, as head coach Scott Frey said his game plan was to push forward in the attack and shut down Manhattanville senior Holly Nonis up top.

We wanted to put pressure on their back line, and we did that effectively,” Frey said. We played okay in the midfield, but I was expecting that. We tried a few different things, and we executed them well. We had to play faster and it took some time to get things fully going for us.”

It wasnt too long to get Messiah (20-0) on the scoreboard, however, as it took less than seven minutes for the Falcons to notch the games first tally.

On the right side of the field, sophomore Alex Brandt played a lobbed through-ball landing just outside the middle of the 18-yard box, where senior Amanda Naeher received possession. After corralling the high bouncer and beating a defender quickly, Naeher laced a low shot to the right post, scoring her 31st goal of the season.

It was a great ball in from Alex,” Frey said. It was well-timed and a great touch by Amanda to get control over it.”

And as per the norm for the Falcons all season, a second goal would not be too far away. Less than five minutes later, senior winger Joanna Haqq blew past a Valiant defender and went to the end line. Her ensuing cross was found by sophomore Corinne Wulf on the far post, who headed it home her 15th goal of the season.

The final goal of the half came by Haqq herself at the 23:42 mark, as she cleaned up a deflected ball in the box. Haqqs ensuing shot was sent to the far post for the Belchertown, Mass. natives fifth goal of the season.

It is always good to get a good, early lead,” Frey said. Jo worked hard in the midfield for us and put together a good effort for us.”

At the half, Messiah lead Manhattanville on shots (16-0), shots on goal (7-0) and corners (5-0), but it was not against a lack of effort put by the Valiants — a team which one just two games all season long before shocking the Freedom Conference and winning the post-season league tournament, earning an automatic berth into the ‘Big Dance.

They played us straight up the entire game,” Frey said. They were willing to put pressure on our backs. (Holly Nonis) was one of their better players and I thought that our center backs (sophomore Annie Trapp and junior Kelsey Gorman) shut her down today. There were dangerous plays that we had to have a stop on, and they made the big plays to stop her.”

The second half was the same as the first, as Messiah would tack on a goal by freshman Alicia Frey on a great individual effort.

Frey was between two defenders but received possession in the middle of the attacking third with some space to her left side. The freshman carried the ball and beat the last defender to her left side before hitting a hard, low shot to the far post from 22 yards out. The ball bounced off the post and into the goal, securing the would-be victory in the 74th minute.

When the clock struck zeores, Messiah had recorded its 18th shut out of the season and Freys seventh 20-win season in the last nine years. Messiah blanked Manhattanville with 34 shots — 15 on goal — and 10 corner kicks. The teams 33 total shots equaled its third highest total on the year.

Manhattanville senior goalkeeper Ali Bromson saved a season-high 11 shots in the defeat. The loss for the Valiants ended its aforementioned Cinderella season, as Manhattanville went 0-11 in non-conference play before shocking the Freedom Conference last week.

Overall, I thought we played well.” Frey added. Tomorrow, we have to come out a little more focused and ready to play with more energy. We know who we are. We know what this season is about. Now, it is about putting all together.”

Messiah will have to put it all together against host Rowan University Sunday in the NCAA Second Round. Rowan put in two first-half goals against Stevenson University and held on to win 2-0 in Saturdays second game.

Fans can follow the Falcons Sunday performance in a variety of ways. Live Stats are available through Rowan University, while Messiahs very own WVMM will broadcast the game live on 90.1 FM and the World Wide Web. GoMessiah.coms Twitter feed will also be providing real-time updates. Sign up to follow Messiah Athletics on Twitter to stay abreast on all the details.

Sundays game is set for a 1 p.m. start.