Men's soccer tops The Master's College in overtime to advance in GSAC
Junior Daniel Chew hustles to get past the Master's players. | Grant Walter/THE CHIMES
The men’s soccer team won its most important match yet against The Master’s College 2-1 in overtime — this was the first round of the Golden State Athletic Conference. Earlier in the season, men’s soccer won their first match against Master’s and lost the second.
With the stage set, the Eagles and Mustangs kicked off Wednesday night. The first half was back and forth. Biola brought the ball forward, then lost possession upfront. Master’s cleared the ball and then begin a counter attack. Master’s found the back of the net first in the ninth minute after the Eagles failed to clear the ball at the top of the 18 and midfielder Joey Mikulas laced the ball just over the head of freshman goalkeeper Joshua Crichton. The men got several opportunities throughout the half but were unable to capitalize and went into the locker room down 1-0.
Tensions broke out several times during the game, most notably near the end of the first half. Biola defender Kevin Kiser shielded Master’s forward Austin Rochow on a contested ball and was pulled back. Both players exchanged words and several other players became involved as the teams had to be separated. While the conduct may not have affected the play on the pitch, it was refreshing to see the passion of the Eagles and the way they rallied behind each other.
With the Eagles down 1-0 in the second half under the lights midfielder John Hanscom overcame all the jitters and nerves. The freshman put Biola on the board in his first postseason collegiate match with a long header from the edge of the box.
After finishing regulation at one goal apiece, the Eagles took the field for sudden death overtime, which allots two 10-minute periods for either team to score. As it turned out the Eagles would only need one of those minutes. Freshman forward Stephen Tanquary picked up a saved shot and netted the game winner as the team rushed the field to celebrate the come-from-behind victory.
Younger players proving key for Eagles
Much of Biola’s production as of late has been accredited to its younger players, as both goals in Wednesday night’s match came from freshmen. Both Tanquary’s and Hanscom’s goals were their fifth of the season, and it was the fifth time this season that a freshman has scored the game-winning goal. Another notable underclassman is freshman Joey O’Keefe. He had a relatively quiet evening in regards to the scoring sheet, but played a crucial role distributing in the midfield. O’Keefe adds to the freshmen total with three goals on the year.
One key aspect to the underclassmen’s success is their ability to work together despite their lack of collegiate experience. Freshman Aaren Lewis notched his first goal against Concordia University Irvine a few weeks back and credited the goal — which ultimately put Biola in a position to beat No. 4 Concordia — to his fellow teammates.
“Joey [O’Keefe] laid a great ball through the defense and I was lucky enough to slot it past the keeper,” Lewis said.
Saturday’s loss against the Mustangs was an obvious disappointment for the Eagles. Despite scoring first off junior midfielder Carlos Ballesteros’ finish, the Eagles allowed back-to-back goals in the second half to drop their first game at home this season.
With San Diego Christian College winning their final regular season match, Biola earned the third-place slot in the Golden State Athletic Conference. Heading into playoffs, the Eagles were given a second-chance opportunity against Master’s as they faced the Mustangs in the first round of the playoffs Wednesday night.
First round victory huge for Biola moving forward
Much was riding on Wednesday’s game against Master’s for the Eagles. Winning the GSAC tournament guarantees a NAIA championship berth. At-large bids are also up for grabs for teams with solid records but not winning their conference tournament. Losing in the first round of the league tournament would not look favorable on the Eagles’ at-large chances, so advancing through the tournament is crucial.
Despite losing to Master’s earlier in the week, head coach Bryan Kuderman expressed his confidence in the boys as well as their confidence in each other in a lighthearted manner.
“Our attack has been much better. We’ve had effective scoring chances and converted on them. The boys are very confident right now and I think it has everything to do with the beards that we’re all growing on our faces,” Kuderman said.
Moving forward, the Eagles face San Diego Christian College in the semifinals this Saturday at 2 p.m. Biola defeated the Hawks 2-1 at home earlier this season when Hanscom scored with a minute to go in the match. Currently running on an 11-year win streak against SDCC, Biola hopes to continue the dominant play and move on to the GSAC finals.