The Emmaus men's soccer team kicked off their 2018 campaign on Friday night against the visiting Falcons of Kansas Christian College (Overland Park, Kansas). The Falcons were coming off a season that saw them earn the top seed at the NCCAAII National Tournament the previous year, while Emmaus was coming off of it's strongest ever MCCC Conference finish in 2017.
The Eagles got off to a solid start, winning an early corner that created a dangerous chance, but they were unable to convert. As both teams settled in, it was Kansas Christian who caught the first big break when Sophomore Stephen Castenada (#11) found a seam in the Emmaus defense and drew a penalty as he sought to split two defenders. KCC converted the penalty for a 1-0 early lead.
Emmaus then countered with a few close chances of their own, forcing keeper Recife (#1) to make some clutch saves. Unfortunately for Emmaus, the Falcons managed to double their lead on a corner kick that was initially saved by Eagle keeper Gabriel Salinas before falling just over the line for a 2-0 falcon lead.
Emmaus fought on, however, and managed to get a goal back just before the half. Mason McCarl (#7) won a free kick 25 yards out, and senior Carson McBain (#11) sent in a shot that rattled off the crossbar. Senior Neal Johnson (#4) followed up the play an scored on the rebound.
Trailing 1-2 at the half, the Eagles looked to claw their way back. The second half was a bit more of a stalemate, however, as neither team seemed to be able to get a clear edge. The Falcons possessed well, stringing together some quality passes in the midfield, while Emmaus launched some dangerous counters and developed a few quality buildups of their own.
The lone goal of the second half came with 20 minutes to play when an errant pass in the Emmaus defense rolled right to the foot of a waiting Falcon. The KCC player calmly side-stepped the Emmaus keeper and put away the goal, giving the Falcons a 3-1 lead and victory.
"I was really proud of the way the guys played today. KCC is a quality team with a great coach and a lot of skilled players. We had some quality minutes ourselves, and the guys fought hard. Fitness, positioning, and confidence on the ball are all areas that we can grow in. As a coach, that is exciting as we have a lot of room to improve. No doubt these boys will be fired up for our first MCCC conference match next Friday." (Coach Brown)
The Eagles will continue their season next Friday, September 8th, as they host visiting conference foe and defending champion Manhattan Christian College. Kickoff it set for 4:00.