MC
Sipe

GRANTHAM, Pa. -- Top-ranked Messiah knocked off Albright 3-0 in Commonwealth Conference semifinal action on Thursday. 

The game started off quickly for the Falcons as they 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 only a few minutes later. In the 21st minute of play, 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," Sipe said. "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," Messiah head coach Scott Frey said. "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.

Commonwealth Conference Scores
Lebanon Valley 3, Alvernia 0
Conference Championship Central

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 to extend the Falcons advantage to 2-0.

Just five minutes later, senior Jess Shirk would put the game away. Erin Hench took the ball aggressively down the right side, cutting towards the post, and found Shirk across the box for a score on the left side to put Messiah in front 3-0. The goal completed the scoring on the night, as the Falcons' defense yielded zero shots to the Lions in the second half, preserving the shutout.

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," Frey said, whose team is looking for their fifth consecutive Commonwealth Championship. "We created good chances for ourselves and good things happened. Also, our back row was great on defense."