The Emmaus Eagle soccer team travelled to Manhattan, Kansas on Friday to begin conference play against historic powerhouse Manhattan Christian. The Thunder of MCC were looking to get revenge on the Eagles, who had beaten them twice the previous season to claim the regular season and conference championships. The Eagles, still looking for their first win on the season, entered the game having to make several adjustments due to injuries incurred at practice in the week leading up to the match.
The first half saw Manhattan controlling most of possession and taking advantage of their wide turf field as they sought to spread out the Emmaus defense. As has become commonplace the Eagles, freshman keeper Jacob Bauder (#1) came up big on a few plays to keep the Thunder out of the net. Emmaus did manage to create a few decent build-ups, mostly through the quality play of another freshman, Gabriel Aguilar (#22). For the second straight match, the Eagles entered half time tied at 0-0.
The second half was a story of it's own. Manhattan opened the scored in the 49th minute when Nate Awbrey (#5) settled an entry ball and neatly flicked it through the Emmaus defense to a sprinting Isaiah Freese (#21), who finally found the net for the home team. The Thunder struck again in the 58th minute when Freese (#21) found Winder Angel Vasquez (#10) open on the back post for the easy tap in.
As both teams looked to settle in, the Eagles came face to face with one of their scariest moments of the season. Senior captain Carson McBain (#11) took a hard hit near middle field and fell awkwardly on his back, resulting in sharp pains and a headache. Not wanting to take any risks with a spine injury, paramedics were called to allow for a more thorough examination. With the game stopped, both teams gathered together to pray for their brother and friend.
"It was a special moment," said Coach Brown. "We were praying before the match that God would work beyond our imaginations to show us His love while we played with Manhattan today, and he did. I wouldn't have imagined an injury bringing two rivals teams so close together, but God knew that was what it would take. Seeing the guys praying together on their knees brought tears of joy to my eyes."
With McBain out and the game seemingly out of reach, the Eagles began to work in some of their reserves, who played some important minutes for the visitors. The hosts added two more goals before the match was said and done to make it 4-0 on two quality plays. The Eagles, for their part, fought on, with captain Jake Taylor (#12) stepping up to lead. Reserves Stephen Sam (#15) and Emmanuel Delgado (#20) hooked up on a couple of plays, but didn't manage to break through the Thunder defense. The match ended with the Thunder setting a high bar in the conference.
"The guys really played alright today all things considered, and some of the goals we gave up came after some very fixable mistakes by the defense. I don't want to take anything away from Manhattan. They are definitely a stronger team this year than last. They are going to be tough to beat this year, but I know my guys will hope to have another shot in the conference tournament.