The Emmaus men's soccer team headed south this weekend for a double-header against the Highlanders of MacMurray College and the Red Lions of Lincoln Christian University.
The meeting with MacMurray was the first in school history and proved to be a memorable one. After controlling possession and momentum early the Eagles found the back of the net in the 20th minute whe Carson McBain (#11) played a ball over the top to sophomore Nick Fairley (#9) who hit the ball out of the air for a perfect finish.
Ten minutes later it was the Highlanders turn. A Highlander forward sent a cross in from the wing that was deflected off of an Eagle defender and rolled into the corner of the goal. With the game tied at ones the Eagles continued to press, but the Highlander defense held strong.
The second half saw teams go back and forth with the ball with Emmaus controlling possession and the Highlanders launching several dangerous counter attacks. Regulation ended with the scores still knotted as the teams prepared for overtime. Emmaus once again dominated possession, but failed to capitalize as both teams earned a hard earned draw. The Eagles outshot the Highlanders 27-7 and held a 9-3 advantage on corners.
"It was encouraging to see our guys controlling the ball and maintaining possession and we established that we will have work to do when it comes to finishing in the final third. It would have been nice to avoid overtime on a long weekend, but hey, we will thank the Lord for 20 more minutes of soccer in the season!" (Coach Brown)
The second match of the weekend saw the Eagles face off with a tough Red Lions squad coached by a tough competitor, Craig Hoskins. The Red Lions looked dangerous early, playing in some dangerous balls to outstanding forward, Keaton Doty (#22) which required senior defender Elijah Barsness (#1) to make a goal line save. Following those early Lion surges the Eagles began to settle in and create some dangerous attacks of their own, with Nick Fairly just missing the goal on a driven ball in the 16th minute.
With the teams battling back and forth, the Red Lions finally broke through in the 20th minute. A pass to the middle took an unfortunate bounce off of an Emmaus defender right into the path of a Lincoln attacker (#10) who calmly slid the ball into the back of the net with a convincing left foot. The Red Lions doubled their leader 15 minutes later when Doty found just enough space deep in the 18 to slot another shot into the goal.
Down 2-0 at the half, the Eagles kept their heads up and pressed the attack. Once again they looked dangerous, but as the day before, they failed to find the back of the net in the second period. The Red Lions, for their part, managed to score one more when Doty managed to keep the ball on his feet despite an Emmaus tackle and awkward bounce.
Despite the 3-0 loss, the Eagles gained a lot from their weekend trip. "I was really proud of the way the guys fought this weekend. The shot count was almost even in the match, we held an edge on corners, and we played some great stretches of soccer all match long despite having a small bench and a long game the night before. It was a physical matchup, but our guys really kept their heads. It was an exhausting weekend, but I saw growth and was reminded how blessed I am to coach this particular group of guys." (Coach Brown)
The Eagles will be back in action on Tuesday in Ankeny, Iowa as they take on their conference rival Faith Baptist Bible College. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30.