Seniors Alex Brandt and Rachel Scheibeler connected for a game-winning goal in the 21st minute on Saturday, as Messiah College held on to win 1-0 over Emory University in the NCAA Division III National Championship.
The winning score came off a perfectly slotted ball by Brandt to the right edge of the box, as Scheibeler ran on to the ball from the right side for a quick touch forward and shot past Emory keeper Erica Stein. The goal was Scheibeler's 16th on the season—her second game-winner in as many days.
“We focus on a lot on movement and passing,” Scheibeler said of the Falcons' attack. “We want to be dynamic out there and create chances, and we did on that play.”
The Falcons' national title is their fifth in program history, as they were making their sixth-straight appearance in the National Final. All national titles have come under head coach Scott Frey, who in his 13th season has now accumulated a record of 276-14-13 (.932).
“It never gets easy,” Frey said of both Messiah's winning tradition and their championship victories. “There hasn't been an easy one yet, and tonight was a battle from start to finish.”
The title game match-up between No. 1 Messiah and No. 16 Emory was highly-anticipated considering the Eagles were responsible for the Falcons' lone loss this season—a 2-1, overtime win at Messiah in early September. The National Final lived up to the billing, as it was immediately evident that the Falcons and Eagles would fight toe-to-toe from start to finish.
“The game was such a midfield battle,” Frey said. “Our defensive backs have been fantastic for all three weeks of the NCAAs, and they were so again tonight.”
The contest started in Messiah's favor, with the combination of Brandt, Scheibeler, and Nikki Elsaesser playing off each other and creating runs forward for Messiah. Even as Emory's physical defense managed to hamper the Falcons' attempts, it appeared Messiah was close to finding a goal-scoring connection.
That connection was made between Brandt and Scheibeler, with Brandt's midfield possession starting 35 yards out from the goal. Her eventual slot to Scheibeler's score set off a celebration in the stands, as the large Messiah contingent cheered the goal.