The Emmaus men's soccer team travelled to Ankeny, Iowa last week to compete in the NCCAA2 North Regional Tournament. The Eagles entered the tournament as the #6 seed and drew a tough first round matchup with the #3 seeded Archers of Moody Bible Institute (Chicago, IL).
The teams kicked off on a frigid Thursday morning with a thin layer of snow from the night before stretched across the pitch. With the sun shining to disguise the 25 degree temperature, the two teams squared off for a do or die match. Led by Region MVP Dani Martinez and a senior heavy roster, the Archers pressed the attack early and often. Emmaus, for their part, came out of the gates slow and struggled to look sharp on either end of the field.
Moody took advantage of their early possession and struck first in the 12th minute when Will Snyder (#9) found the back of the net after seeing an earlier attempt hit off the post. Just one minute later they struck again when some confusion in the Emmaus defense left Moody midfielder Young Jae Koh (#2) wide open at the top of the box for a quick touch and score.
Trailing by two goals, Emmaus pressed forward in an attempt to make a game out of it. They nearly cut Moody's lead in half in the 18th minute when a scramble in the box saw Stephen Sam (#15) deflect a shot off the post. It was Moody, however, that would capitalize again before the half on two separate occasions to give the higher seed a comfortable four goal cushion at the break. Emmaus forward John Hertz (#20) had once again struck woodwork for Emmaus on a corner kick, but the Eagles failed to find the net.
The second half saw more of the same from Moody as they methodically worked their way through the Emmaus defense to score on multiple occasions. The lone bright spot of the second half came when senior captains Jake Taylor (#12) and Carson McBain (#11) hooked up in the 60th minute. Taylor found McBain on a ball over the top and Carson, as he has done all season, calmly slid his shot home to get a goal back for his side.
The final score of 8-1 was the biggest loss of the year for the Emmaus, who saw their season come to an abrupt halt. Still, the Eagles have much to celebrate on the year as they persevered through injuries and a small roster, still managing to play tight games against tough competition. Their 3rd place finish in the MCCC Conference tournament also marks their third best conference performance since joining the conference in 2014.
The team also saw 4 players earning All-Conference Recognition (Mason McCarl- 2nd Team, Fabian Parra- 2nd Team, Jake Taylor- 1st Team, and Carson McBain- Conference MVP). In addition, Jake Taylor made the NCCAA2 North Division All Region Team, with Carson McBain falling just on the outside only because the midfield was stacked with quality players.
"That was a disappointment for me," said Coach Brown. "Carson is the leading scorer in the entire North Region (all positions included) with 12 goals, and he added 4 assists to go with it, contributing on 2/3 of all Emmaus goals scored this season. He scored from free kicks, penalties, in quick transition, and even from beyond midfield on one occasion. He can shut down any opposing player in the midfield. And if his statistics don't say enough, Carson is the vocal leader of the team that made every player on the team better. We would not have been able to stay in any of our games this season without him. I guess what I am trying to say is that while Carson didn't 'technically' make the All Region team, he is an All American as far as I am concerned. So what is the silver lining for Carson? It is the fact that Carson loves Jesus more than soccer. This 'snub' might have wrecked him in past years, but I trust that Carson will bounce back because I have seen him grow into a godly man these past four years who doesn't need one more thing to tempt his ego. God's ways are perfect (Psalm 18:30), and apparently He loves Carson too much to let him be recognized as an All-Region player."
The Eagles ended their season with a final record of 3 wins, 13 losses, and 1 tie. Freshman goalkeeper, Jacob Bauder, finished 3rd in the NCCAA with an impressive 10.38 saves per game on the year and will look to build on that in 2020. The Eagles will look to rebuild in the 2020 season as they graduate 4 key seniors from a small roster. Sophomore midfielder Reilly Steel (#10) and winger Jacob Chacko (#14) are just a couple of the returners who will have a much bigger leadership role to play in the upcoming season.
As a final note to cap the season, Coach Brown, who announced his decision to step down as the Associate Head Men's Soccer Coach after 8 years with the program in order to focus on his family, had this to say: "It has been a great privilege to coach the Emmaus Eagles for the past eight seasons. The Lord has used it to teach me a lot about myself… sometimes not always pretty… and the body of Christ. I am thankful for the many players who have helped to build and then bought into a culture that seeks to excel at soccer without compromising their testimony. God knows we failed often… and then had the opportunities to learn from those failures, because God is good. I will miss all aspects of coaching... except the paperwork. Singing and fellowshipping with my own team as well as many of our opponents will forever go down as some of my favorite memories. Thanks to Head Coach, Dan Block, for so graciously partnering with me to coach these young men, and for past assistants and players who joined me on this journey of growth. My prayer is that we will be remembered for having walked worthy of the Gospel. Thanks to the Emmaus administration, faculty/staff, and students for all of their support along the way. A special thanks to my wife, Kerry, and the four kids who graciously allowed me to spend many hours away from home. And finally, thanks to Jesus for using soccer to challenge and refine me. It has been a joy to serve. Go Eagles!"