EUREKA, IL - The Emmaus men's soccer team traveled south on Saturday to take on the Red Devils of Eureka College. The Eagles entered the match with a short roster (13 players) and knew the match would be a tough one, yet they were determined to "be the best at what we are" and put up a fight.
Eureka, an NCAA Division 3 opponent, applied pressure early as senior Michael Hansen (#19) managed to get off some early shots. Eagle keeper Jacob Bauder (#1) was up to the task, however, making 3 key saves in the first four minutes of the game before the defense settled in. Somewhat against the run of play, it was the Eagles who managed to get on the board first when senior Carson McBain moved forward to take a long throw. The ball bounced around in the box and off of a few players before fellow senior Mason McCarl made a dive at the ball and hammered it home from close range. The goal was the first of the year for the Eagles, and helped to build confident in the young group. Eureka continued to apply pressure in the first half, but a strong defensive effort by a variety of players kept the home team goalless.
The second half saw a much more even contest as the first 15 minutes saw both teams create two good scoring chances each. Emmaus's best chance came when midfielder Reilly Steel (#10) played a perfect ball over the top to forward Sam Tran (#19) whose shot from the top of the 20 yards out forced a diving save from the Eureka keeper Fabian Saldana (#4). It was Eureka, however, that would finally catch their break when midfielder Sam Lin (#30) beat a defender on the right flank, only to get tripped up in the box a moment later to give his team a penalty kick. Senior Michael Hansen stepped up and converted the penalty to knot the game at 1-1. For the rest of regulation both teams continued to press and to fight through exhaustion and cramps, but to no avail as the game was destined for overtime.
The first overtime once again saw play go back and forth, but Eureka managed to catch their break in the 94th minute. A crossed ball was whiffed by two Emmaus players before awkwardly bouncing into the hand of midfielder John Hertz (#20). The penalty kick was awarded, and one again Michael Hansen stepped up and converted to the home team the 2-1 win.
"It was a gallant effort by the boys to force the game to overtime," said Head Coach Block after the match. "I am really pleased with everyone's effort." Coach Brown added that, "these boys represented their school and their Savior well today. Their effort was solid and their attitudes were awesome. They played with endurance and a spirit of unity that were commendable, especially considering the short roster. We had some guys play new positions, and also rotate on the fly as was needed. Just an all-around great effort and I am proud to be working with this group."
The Eagles will be back in action on Friday at Jack Fish Field when they host MacMurray College, a team that they tied 1-1 back in 2017 in the only contest in the history of the two schools. Kickoff is set for 4:00 pm.