Messiah dominates Elms
Falcons remain unbeaten, advance to second round
GRANTHAM, Pa. -- Making their 12th consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament, Messiah defeated Elms 10-0 in the first round contest held on Messiah’s Shoemaker Field.
The Blazers, making their first appearance in the NCAA tournament, kept the game scoreless for the first five minutes before the Falcons scored five goals before intermission.
In the sixth minute, senior Erin Hench played a ball to junior Corinne Wulf on the left side as she was cutting over the 18-yard line. Wulf took the ball toward the end line before crossing it to the right side where it bounced past Elms’ keeper Kelly Callahan. The ball cleared the goal as Messiah senior Lisa Wingard kept possession for the Falcons, delivering a short pass back to classmate Leah Sipe for a clear shot from inside the corner of the 18.
The shot deflected off Callahan and Wulf before crossing the goal line for the score.
The score would remain unchanged until the 20th minute. In the subsequent 10 minutes, it would change three times.
Wulf controlled possession on the left side, 35 yards out from the goal, and played a ball to Hench towards the 18-yard line. Hench cut left and past her defender to attack one-on-one with Callahan. Her quick strike went on the ground and to the right corner for the score.
Less than two minutes later Hench would return the favor to Wulf, delivering a through ball to the middle of the box where Wulf slotted her shot into the right corner past a diving Callahan.
Now with a 3-0 lead, Messiah freshman Ashley Locke placed a cross from the right side into the box for Hench. The senior would leap for a one-touch shot past Callahan, giving the Falcons a 4-0 in the 29th minute of play.
A goal by junior Rachel Scheibeler in the half’s final minute gave Messiah a 5-0 lead going into the break. The lead may have been much larger if not for Callahan, who made 12 saves in the first half alone -- many on dives to either side.
“We had a number of opportunities to finish today,” said Wulf, who joined with her Falcon teammates in launching 32 shots in the first half. “We connected well on the field and took advantage of our chances.”
In the second half, Messiah would add five more goals on 12 shots. Junior Alex Brandt would score just over a minute into the frame off a strong rip from left of midfield, outside of the 18-yard line.
Wulf and Hench would each add their third goals of the game in the 54th and 55th minutes, respectively, as the Falcons continued their dominant offensive display.
“It was important for us to get off to a good start,” Messiah head coach Scott Frey said. “Overall, we played well."
The Falcons, who received goals by seniors Jess Shirk and Kelsey Gorman to complete the scoring, utilized a deep bench as players received valuable experience on the pressurized field of the NCAA tournament.
“It’s huge for our girls,” Frey said. “Being able to get everyone minutes, especially when they can sometimes feel like more pressure in this setting, is great for us. We’ll hopefully be able to continue playing well.”
The Blazers’ season ends after advancing into the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history. They finish with a 10-6-4 record, including a New England Collegiate Conference win against Lesley last weekend.
“I couldn’t be prouder of these girls,” Elms head coach Kevin Meek said. “To get into the NCAAs for the first time is a great experience. These girls played their hearts out, especially in the last few weeks to get us here.”
“We wanted to play our hearts out,” said Callahan, who finished with 15 saves on the day. “They really attack well, especially on crosses. We have a taste of this tournament, so we’ll look forward to hopefully getting back next year.”