The Emmaus soccer team played their final match of the regular season on Friday afternoon when they hosted the Sabercats of Maranatha Baptist University (Watertown, WI). The two teams had met early in the season in a game that saw Maranatha edge out the Eagles 2-1 in double OT despite outshooting Emmaus 41-5. The second match between the two sides was slotted as Senior Night for a beat up Emmaus squad that was missing 3 starters due to injury.
The match started off with the Sabercats controlling much of the possession and launching several dangerous attacks down the right flank. The Emmaus defense held, however, and play started to settle down as both teams worked to earn an advantage. Maranatha nearly took the lead in the 27th minutes when Zeke Steuerwald (#12) fired a low rocket from the right side that hit the left post and bounced out. Emmaus finally started to gain some offensive momentum of their own in the last ten minutes of the half, switching fields and sending in a few dangerous crosses. Both defenses held firm, and the halftime score was knotted at zeroes, with Maranatha holding a 10-1 advantage in shots.
The second half saw a spirited Maranatha continue to press the attack, with Emmaus launching several dangerous counter-attacks. The first big break of the game came in the 69th minute, and it favored the home team. Senior Mason McCarl (#7) ran down a ball over the top and got a touch on it, managing to deflect it off of the Sabercat keeper Tim Kinzler (#1). The awkwardly deflected ball bounced across the face of the goal where freshman Stephan Sam (#15) calmly slotted the rebound home.
Trailing by a goal, Maranatha began to play with a greater sense of urgency, and they were rewarded in the 76th minute when Teddy Kincaid (#22) crossed a ball from the right flank to forward Tyler Nelson (#7) whose calm one time effort from the top of the 18 curled neatly into the left corner.
With the game tied it looked like the teams might be slotted for overtime once again. It was not to be, however, as trouble struck for the home team. Senior captain Carson McBain (#11) went to clear a ball and had his ankle injured in a hard collision. With McBain on the ground the Sabercats won a corner kick, and Emmaus was forced to shift some players in order to fill the void left by McBain in the midfield. When play resumed, Maranatha's Tyler Nelson crossed the ball into Caleb Hockema (#19) whose header found the back of the net in the 82nd minute. Four minutes later the Sabercats struck again on a corner kick when Josh Hockema (#15) turned from the top of the 18 and fired a shot into the bottom corner. The final whistle blew with the Sabercats earning the 3-1 victory.
"It was quite a game," said Coach Brown. "We knew Maranatha would be a tough team, and I wasn't sure what was going to happen with such a thin roster. Everyone on the roster really stepped up big tonight, playing hard minutes in sometimes brand new positions. You could tell they believed they could win, and they very nearly pulled it off. The seniors on this team are a special group, inspiring their teammates to play hard for one another, and ultimately for their Savior. I couldn't be more proud of this group."
After the match the team held a short ceremony to honor six seniors: Manager Shane Douglas, 2 year players John Hertz and Fabian Parra, and 4 year seniors Carson McBain, Jake Taylor, and Mason McCarl.
Emmaus will begin postseason play on Thursday, October 31st, at home in the Midwest Christian College Conference (MCCC) tournament. Their seed is still to be determined.