The Emmaus soccer men took the field on Wednesday afternoon, hosting the Red Devils of Eureka University. The Eagles, coming off of two MCCC conference wins over the weekend, knew that they would need to up their game against a talented Eureka side. The Eagles had gotten the best of the Red Devils 11 days earlier with a 3-1 win on the road, but they knew full well that Eureka has the personnel and coaching to make for a much closer game.
The match kicked off with Eureka looking for force mistakes by high pressing the Eagles, while the Eagles calmly dealt with the pressure and worked the ball around. The Emmaus defense, for their part, held strong, thwarting every Eureka attack. The closest either team came to scoring was when Emmaus forward Mason McCarl (#7) drew two defenders and laid the ball off to a waiting Wakilongo Ebake (#17). Unfortunately, the ball caught up under Waki's foot, preventing him from getting off a quick shot. The teams went into the half tied scoreless.
The second half saw more of the same as both teams battled in the midfield, taking turns holding momentum for a few minutes at a time. Eureka's team defended well, led by outstanding defender Tim Johnson (#3). Emmaus also played well, communicating well and frustrating Eureka's forwards. As the half progressed, it looked like the two teams might be heading for overtime. IN the 72nd minute, however, Eureka caught their break. Michael Hansen (#19) won the end-line when an Emmaus defender slipped. Hansen's cross was low, and just missed a second Emmaus defender, who also slipped without touching the ball. A Eureka midfielder waiting at the back post found the ball at his feet for the simple tap in to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
In the final minutes, Emmaus pushed for an equalizer, winning several corner kicks as they pressed the attack. Unfortunately for the Eagles, time ran out on their efforts as Eureka held on for the 1-0 win.
"That was a great match," said Coach Brown. "It could have gone either way. The fact that the goal came when two of our players slipped on the same play seemed almost fitting as the game was a scrappy, hard fought match. There are definitely some things we can grow in, but I am really proud of the way the boys fought today. Eureka is a quality team and playing teams like them will only make us better. And honestly, my favorite part of today's match was watching the spirit of the game. Both teams played with mutual respect for one another, playing hard, but not taking themselves too seriously. It was as if our guys really believed that there are more important things than soccer even as they busted to play their best. It was a pleasure to watch."
The Eagles are off for the weekend and then will travel to Ankeny, Iowa to take on the Eagles of Faith Baptist Bible College (Tuesday, October 2nd). The match will play a major role in determining the regular season conference title as well as seeding for the upcoming MCCC tournament. Kickoff is set for 4:00.