April 16, 2011

Misericordia No Match for No. 15 Messiah

from press release

GRANTHAM, Pa. — Messiah honored its four senior members prior to the start of Saturday’s MAC clash with Misericordia University.

Aside from that, there wasn’t much that was pretty.

A persistent rain, stiff winds and temperatures hovering in the 40s made conditions horrid for doing anything outside, and the play between the MAC-leading Falcons and the MAC-basement Cougars wasn’t much better: Messiah outshot the visitors by a 41-3 disparity and rolled to its seventh straight win, 21-1.

“It was great to honor our seniors on our final home Saturday (regular-)season game, but all in all it was an ugly game,” said Joanna Dennsteadt, Messiah assistant coach. “We’re pleased to get a conference win, but we realize that we have to keep improving.”

Messiah — ranked 15th in the latest IWLCA Top 20 Poll — would certainly have liked to have a moment back from early in the contest, when Misericordia’s Kate Pagnotta made a nice dodge down the center of the field and scored what would be the Cougars’ lone goal with 23:16 remaining in the first half.

Pagnotta sliced through the Falcons’ defense and put a low bouncer past sophomore goalie Taylor Phillips — an instant that prevented the hosts from recording a program-record four shutouts this year.

Still, it wasn’t as if Pagnotta’s strike made things remotely interesting. Goals from junior Rachel Coyle, freshman Lizzy Keeney and sophomore Gabrielle Hamerlyck had already plated Messiah (11-1, 8-0) lead by that point, and things would only get more lopsided from there: Despite losing four of the game’s first five draw controls, the Falcons repeatedly got the ball back thanks to 26 Cougars’ turnovers — 14 of which caused by Messiah actions.

Keeney tacked on her second score of the day less than four minutes following Pagnotta’s score, while freshman Kayla Given knocked in an unassisted tally just moments later.

It was then that senior Kara Geiman erupted, scoring the first of her season-high five at the 18:47 mark. She added three straight from the 7:29 mark to the 5:10 mark in the first half, helping the Falcons take a 13-1 lead at the intermission.

And while Messiah was more patient offensively in the final period, it was just as dangerous. Geiman highlighted an eight-goal second half, scoring the game’s final tally with just three seconds remaining on the game clock.

Geiman’s five goals and three assists capped a monstrous, eight-point day, while Keeney (three goals), Coyle (three) and junior Meghan Doolittle (three goals) flanked her. Junior Jaime Gerhart scored twice and equaled Geiman’s three assists, while freshman Samantha Kochey scored her first collegiate goal with just 59 seconds remaining in the first half.

Coyle forced a season-high seven turnovers in the win, helping illustrate Messiah’s dominance in the midfield. The Falcons were a perfect eight for eight on clears, limiting Misericordia to just a five for 17 performance.

Geiman, Megan Bovenzi, Elizabeth Graham and Andrea Thomas were all honored with a brief ceremony before the start of the game, as the foursome was greeted with flowers and escorted by their parents through the driving rain. Bovenzi sadly did not play due to an injury suffered in Thursday’s 11-9 win at Elizabethtown College — Messiah also held out usual starters Rachel Dirksen (junior) and Maddie Comfort (sophomore) as well.

The Falcons will return to action Tuesday afternoon when they travel to Eastern University. Game time is set for 4 p.m.

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