Eagles Controls the Game and Ground the Falcons

ST. DAVIDS, Pa.- Games in the Eastern-Messiah series have historically come down to a few key possessions a the end of the game. Today, however, the host Eagles (5-2) did work early and held on for a convincing 14-6 win over the Falcons.

The two teams had met in one-goal affairs in each of the past three seasons. Eastern won the regular season finale in 2010 by a 9-3 score, but the Falcons returned to Olson Field two days later and won 10-9 in an overtime classic. Last spring, Eastern rallied late before falling 11-10. Eastern won 9-8 in the first meeting between the two schools in 2009.

The match started at a deliberate pace, and the Falcons had the first two chances of the day. Aaron Benz, starting in his first match since coming back from injury was up to the task with a super save on a low shot from Kyle Sproles. Eastern took the lead on its opening possession of the afternoon. Grant Ferguson took a feed from fellow freshman Andrew Travers and whipped in a turnaround shot from two steps off the edge of the crease.

Neither team scored for the next ten minutes, and it appeared that the Eagles would hold a one goal lead at the quarter. With just more than a minute to play in the quarter, the game exploded. Matt Wagner started the scoring with his first of the day on a great low-to-low shot after a Will Johnson skip pass. Wagner, who had played only sparingly due to injury in the early part of the year, finished with four goals and an assist in his return to regular duty.

Messiah won the ensuing face-off on a violation and took advantage of a transition chance to cut the Eastern lead to 2-1 with 33 seconds to play. AJ Ryan then put his mark on the game with consecutive face-off wins and assists.

Ryan won the first after Sproles' goal and fed Chris Farrar on the crease for a crisp finish with 28 seconds to play. Ryan then one the next face-off to wing-man Ron Johnson. Johnson dodged a pair of defenders and fed Farrar on the doorstep with 13 seconds to play. Farrar scored four times on the day. Three of those goals came directly off face-offs. Ryan captured 15 of 23 face-offs and did not have a turnover in the transition game.

Eastern stretched the lead to 5-1 as Farrar completed his hat-trick early in the second. Messiah made good on a man-up chance moments later to close the gap to 5-2. Kyle Schnellenburg scored his first of three on the day on a feed from Zac Smith.

Matt Soldano restored the four goal edge with a solo effort against an extra defender after Messiah had been flagged for an offside penalty early in the play. The junior midfielder circled the cage and rolled central into a hard check right at the edge of the crease. His shot had enough on it to score and the Eagles would get a man-up opportunity because of the slash.

The Eagles failed in the ensuing man-up chance, and actually went down a player on a cross-check call. Ron Johnson's man-down tally was his only goal of the day. Ben Swan and Jordan Norris created the transition chance for Johnson with a check and a ground ball. Eastern led 7-2 at the break.

Messiah scored twice in the opening 16 seconds of the second half, but the Eagles again answered with a quick strike after a face-off. Ryan fed Farrar again. Wagner made the score 9-4 on a long shot that bounced between a pair of Messiah players and into the goal. Though the Falcons answered with another man-up goal, the Eagles dominated possession and grabbed two more goals before the end of the third. Ferguson and Zac Ivy did the honors.

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