Messler's Goal Helps Mules Tie Ranked Fords

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

She may have been two days early, but Leah Messler gave herself a pretty good birthday present Wednesday evening.

The freshman midfielder for the Muhlenberg women’s soccer team, who will celebrate her birthday on Friday, scored the first goal of her career early in the second half to help the Mules tie No. 24 Haverford, 1-1.

Muhlenberg celebration The Fords, who are ranked fourth in the region by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, controlled play for the early portions of the first half and took the lead on a goal in the 19th minute.

But as the rain continued to fall on Varsity Field, the Mules (4-2-1, 1-0-1) began to push back. While the Mules still trailed by one at the break, Messler said the team's confidence grew with each passing minute.

“We were a little anxious in the beginning,” Messler said. “So at halftime the seniors told us to just stay calm and keep playing our game, and we would score.”

Less than 10 minutes after the break, she proved them right.

Leah Messler Sophomore Stephanie Tramutola sent a cross from the right wing into the box. Haverford’s goalie came off the line and punched the ball twice. The second punch went right to the foot of Messler (right), who was streaking down the left side of the field.

In one motion, the freshman connected with the ball just outside the box and sent it sailing past the Ford keeper into the upper right corner to tie the game in the 53rd minute.

“I knew it was in off my foot,” Messler said. “I saw the goalie was out and knew she couldn’t get to it. That was a great feeling.”

The Fords (4-0-2, 1-0-1) had a good chance at going back in front with less than 25 minutes to play, but senior Michele Toher made a diving, one-handed save on a bending shot from the top of the box to keep the tie intact.

From there, the two teams kept applying pressure, but neither one could find the winner. Haverford held an 18-12 advantage in shots, but Toher finished with eight saves to help hold them to just one goal.

And while it may not have been the perfect birthday present since it wasn’t a win, Messler said she was still proud of the result and, more importantly, how her team played.

“We may not have won, but they’re a good team,” she said of Haverford. “We played our hearts out and left them on the field. We feel like we can play with anybody.”
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