The Messiah College Falcons have snapped the four-game winning streak of Elizabethtown College’s men’s soccer team with a heartbreaking 2-0 victory on Monday, Oct. 31. However, past wins over conference opponents Lycoming College and Arcadia University give the Blue Jays a 4-3 record in the Middle-Atlantic Conference (MAC) and a fourth-place spot in the postseason tournament.
Much to the dismay of Etown fans, the annual Marshmallow Bowl was postponed on Oct. 29 due to weather conditions, and the rescheduled game was played in Palmyra at the In the Net Sports Complex. With this win, Messiah secured a number-one ranking in the MAC, which complements their first place spot in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Thirty-three minutes into the first half, the Falcons’ Jeremy Payne snuck in a shot past junior goalie Eric Carr, making the score 1-0.
The Blue Jays relentlessly pursued a tie for the remainder of the game, but a goal from the Falcon’s Derek Black in the final minute of the game sealed the victory for the Falcons.
Although a loss to such a fierce rival, like Messiah, is always a major blow to the team’s morale, Etown cannot dwell on the loss with the postseason tournament rapidly approaching.
The Blue Jays will face Messiah again on Nov. 3 in the semi-final round of the MAC Championship. A win would put Etown against the winner of the upcoming Alvernia University and Lebanon Valley College game. The Dutchmen of LVC, also 4-3 in the MAC, just beat out Etown for the third place seed – LVC had the tiebreaker since they beat the Blue Jays during the regular season.
In order to beat Messiah in the tournament, Etown will have to use its recent wins against Lycoming (2-1 on Oct. 19), Arcadia (2-0 on Oct. 22) and Susquehanna University (4-1 on Oct. 26), as well as a need for revenge, to roll past the Falcons.
“We built up good momentum at the end of the season with our wins,” sophomore Andrew Fetterman said. “We really focused on our team pressure defensively and our energy offensively.”
To channel that past momentum, the Blue Jays will look to Carr to continue to anchor the defense, as well as first-years Zach Hollinger and Eric Borkowicz to fuel the offense. So far Carr has recorded six shutouts this season and had seven saves in the loss to Messiah. Hollinger and Borkowicz will continue to work the other end of the field; these two rookies combined to tally 7 of the team’s 25 goals. Borkowicz was even named Conference Player of the Week after scoring three goals in three consecutive games.
Another great source of momentum will come from Etown’s victory over Lycoming on the Warriors’ home turf. After Lycoming’s Charlie Vess scored, Borkowicz and junior Ross Withrow found the back of the net, lifting the Blue Jays to a 2-1 win. This marks the first time since 1993 that Etown beat the Warriors during the regular season on Lycoming’s home field.
“It felt great beating Lycoming,” Fetterman said. “Our team has previously struggled up there so it was awesome to sort of get that monkey off our back.”
Etown’s history with Messiah would definitely qualify as another monkey that the Blue Jays would like to get rid of.
One thing is for certain: Etown will not let rankings or past losses determine the postseason results.
Fetterman explained, “Our team goal is to win the MAC Championship – anything less will be a disappointment for us. In order for us to win, I think we will need to continue to play with heart and passion.”