The Emmaus Soccer Men travelled to Altoona, Iowa, on Thursday where they met up with conference foe Barclay College. The match, originally scheduled for Saturday, was re-scheduled due to heavy rains across central Iowa. As a result, the game was played on turf, a significant change for both teams.
The match kicked off at noon with Emmaus looking to win its first match against Barclay in several years. The Eagles fell to the Bears the previous season 3-2 despite outshooting their opponent 27-7. This year the Eagles looked to get on the board early and often, not leaving things to chance, and nearly opened things up less than a minute into the game. Wakilongo Ebake (#17) intercepted a pass behind the Bears defense and saw his shot sail just wide of the goal.
Ebake was persistent, however, and a few minutes later managed to slip behind the defense for a second time, this time slotting his shot beyond the keeper's reach. Junior Mason McCarl (#7) doubled the lead just 5 minutes later when he, too managed to get behind the defense to beat the keeper. With both teams settling in, Emmaus managed to find the net one more time in the 39th minute when Ebake netted his second goal.
Up 3-0 at the half, the Eagles shifted their focus to dialing in their attack, looking for ways to beat the Barclay Bears offside trap. With a fresh push to attack wide and to create more space, the Eagles pushed to put the game out of reach early in the second half. Unlike the previous year when Emmaus blew a 2-1 lead, the Eagles jumped on the board again quickly. Once again it was Ebake and McCarl who led the charge, only this time working in tandem. Ebake one the endline, drew the Bears keeper out, then found McCarl at the back post. Minutes later, Ebake completed his hat trick to give the Eagles a 5-0 lead. The scoreline stood for the final half hour of play, with both teams creating a few chances, but with Emmaus generally controlling possession.
"I was proud of the way the guys came out ready to play today. They stayed focused throughout the match, working to improve at various points rather than worry about the score. Senior Tim Barton was a catalyst for organizing the defense, while Carson McBain and Anthony Flores helped to control the midfield. Several of our new and younger players put in some valuable minutes, paying attention to detail and applying things we were discussing on the sidelines. This allowed us to rest some starters and to provide some helpful experience to the whole group. For their part, Barclay has some quality players and I have greatly appreciated what Coach Austen Ogle is doing with his guys to develop a culture that reflects Christ-likeness without compromising hard play. I love coaching as a part of the MCCC conference." (Coach Brown).
Junior captain Jake Taylor summarized the game as follows. "Fueled by last year's loss to Barclay and with some added talent and depth this year, we surged through today's game and now have our eyes set firmly on Manhattan tomorrow."
The Eagles will host reigning conference champion Manhattan Christian College on Friday with kickoff set for 4:00 PM.