The Emmaus soccer men travelled to Ankeny on Tuesday to take on their in-state rivals, the Eagles of Faith Baptist Bible College. The two teams entered the match with identical records of 6 wins, 2 losses, and had plenty to play for with the top seed for the MCCC Conference tournament at stake. A win or tie by Emmaus (4-0 in conference play) would see Emmaus secure the top spot outright, while Faith (3-1 conference) could have forced a three way tie at the top with Manhattan Christian College (Manhattan, KS) by winning.
Both teams came out ready to play, with Emmaus taking early possession while Faith packed it in on defense. Emmaus created a few chances, but to their credit, the Faith defense managed to deflect most shots before they reached the goal. Faith, for their part, did manage a few dangerous counterattacks, but the Emmaus defense was also up to the task, settling the ball and possessing out of danger. The halftime score remained knotted at zeroes.
The second half saw Emmaus come out focused and attacking Faith's flanks. Several crosses and corners looked promising, but still no goal found the net. In the 73rd minute it looked as if Emmaus had found net when forward Mason McCarl (#7) won a cross and headed the ball home, but he was whistled for a foul in his effort to gain position. In the waning minutes of regulation, forward Waki Ebake (#17) finally found some daylight just inside the box, but he fired his effort straight at the Faith goalkeeper, Daniel Moore (#1). The teams were headed for overtime.
For the next 20 minutes, Emmaus continued its dominance, attacking wide, sending in dangerous crosses, and coming close to converting on several shots that sailed wide. Even a late game penalty kick was not enough for the Eagles to get on the board as captain Carson McBain (#11) mishit his shot straight at Moore. The game ended in a draw, with Emmaus having recorded 20 shots to Faith's 3 and 10 corner kicks to Faith's zero.
"Tons of credit to Faith's defense, but tonight just wasn't our night to score," said Eagle Coach Ben Brown. "Every match against Faith is a chess match as Coach Sauser always has his troops ready to battle to the last. You can throw records out the window when our two teams match up. For our part, our guys played hard, and we were able to experiment with several different options. As a coach, one encouraging sign was that we only improved as the game went on, playing our best soccer in overtime. We had some guys step up and play some big minutes, and I stand by my belief that we are only going to get better as the season progresses. We earned today's tie as a team, and hopefully next time our shots will actually find the net!"
The tie was enough to earn Emmaus its first ever regular season MCCC conference title, and secure for them the top seed and a first round bye in the upcoming Conference tournament.
"I was pleased with the effort in the second half and overtime today," said Coach Block, "and these boys earned this title as a team. It isn't a one man show, and I love seeing these guys play for each other."
The Eagles will be back in action on Saturday as they host regional rival Maranatha Baptist University. Kickoff is set for 1:00 pm.