Sipe
MC

PALMYRA, Pa. -- Coming into Monday’s highly anticipated match-up with Elizabethtown, No. 1 Messiah was eager to take the field.

Coming off the weekend’s snow-related postponement, the Falcons hadn’t played a game in nine days. Against Elizabethtown, the layoff didn’t show as the Falcons defeated the rival Blue Jays 3-0, completing a perfect 7-0 record in the Commonwealth Conference regular season.

Playing on a neutral site turf, the teams battled in a matchup that was postponed from Saturday because of a rare October blizzard. Though the temperatures remained low throughout Monday’s game, the Falcons’ offense kept the heat on their opposition by outshooting Elizabethtown 19-4.

In the first half, the Falcons controlled possession throughout. A conservative approach from the Blue Jays kept the backfield packed with defenders, leaving little room for the Falcons to get close to the net. Nevertheless, Messiah found gaps and space, challenging keeper Jess Manchak on a number of occasions.

Manchak, aided especially by the strong play of fullback Amy Bunting, was able to thwart all of the Falcons’ attempt until the 10-minute mark when Messiah senior Erin Hench lined up a 25-yard direct kick, delivering a solid strike on the right side of the goal. Manchak moved quickly to her left to capture the ball with two hands but the ball slipped through her hands and dribbled past the goal line, giving the Falcons a 1-0 lead.

“That first goal, we got fortunate,” Messiah head coach Scott Frey said. “But we’ll take it.”

“We knew they weren’t going to give us much space. The field is a little tight, it’s a fast surface, and they didn’t give us much space to work with.”

The 1-0 lead would prove enough for Messiah on the day, yet went on to score two more goals in the second half -- both in a more traditional fashion.

Just over two minutes into the start of the second half, senior Leah Sipe sent a solid cross out of the right side to find classmate Olivia Scott, who sealed the deal in the upper right of the goal. Scott's goal gave the Falcons a comfortable 2-0 lead.

“To get an early goal in the second half, that was huge,” said Frey. “That gave us good separation and allowed us to settle in.”

With just under 2:00 left to play, Sipe would close out the scoring with a shot from eight yards out on the right side, a clean shot past Manchack who was recovering to her left. Junior Alex Brandt was credited with the assist after delivering the ball from the middle of the field.

With the 3-0 win, the Falcons improved to 15-0-1. Thirteen of the Falcons 16 games have come by way of the shutout. With the loss, Elizabethtown falls to 9-5-2, including 2-4-1 in the Commonwealth Conference.