The Eagles soccer team hit the road this weekend to take on a pair of MCCC Conference opponents, beginning with Ozark Christian College (Joplin, MO). The match marked the Eagles third conference match of the season, with Ozark playing its first. Both teams entered the match relieved that the 95 degree weather from Thursday had turned to a much cooler 70 degrees for Friday's kickoff.
The match started with both teams battling in the midfield and neither team creating many dangerous opportunities. As both teams adjusted to the tall grass, most shots were fired high. The best chance of the early going came when Anthony Flores (#10) crossed a ball to the back post that just missed the head of Fabian Parra (#3). Emmaus finally got on the board in the 22nd minute when Flores found Carson McBain (#11) on a through ball. McBain's left footed shot was saved wide, but a waiting Mason McCarl (#7) followed up the play and fired the rebound home. The rest of the half saw both teams continue the struggle to create close chances.
The second half was another story. It was as if the Eagles finally woke up and remembered to do the simple things well. They began to attack wide spaces, creating more space in the middle. They started to put their shots on frame. Just five minutes into the second half, McCarl scored his second of the night when he put away a through ball that was mishandled by the Ozark keeper. Minutes later, he completed his hat trick when freshman Reilly Steel (#15) made a great run up the line, won the endline, and sent in a cross which Flores chested to the ground and fired toward the back post, where McCarl was waiting for the re-direct.
With a 3-0 lead, the Eagles nearly put in another, but it was Ozark that struck. When a long throw bounced through the box to the back post, Ozark's #14 hit a half volley out of the air into side netting for a high quality goal. With a little momentum from the goal, it looked like Ozark might be able to fight their way back into the match. It was not to be, however, as McCarl had the last word. Senior defender Timothy Barton (#8) sent in a deep throw to McCarl that he cut to his left foot and finished into side netting.
With a 4-1 lead, the match saw the Eagle reserves play some quality minutes, earning 4 corner kicks in the waning minutes. The score stood, and Emmaus finished with its fifth straight win and third in conference play. Ozark, for their part, played a quality match, and are a young but dangerous team.
"I was impressed by Ozark's improvement this year, and also by the way they conducted themselves on the field. This is a quality group that is going to be really good as the season progresses. Coach Andy Storms is doing a fantastic job with this group, leading them in all the right ways. As for our guys, the first half was a little rough, but the players proved themselves teachable and ready to adjust. The second half saw them really up their game and play closer to their potential. If we stay focused and keep improving, we have a lot of potential as the season progresses" (Coach Brown).
The Eagles will return to action tomorrow when they take on the Calvary University Warriors (Belton, MO). Kickoff is set for 2:00 at Yeokum Middle School.