Men’s soccer secures conference title
The men’s soccer team completes regular season by winning conference and sweeping conference awards. | Katie Evensen/THE CHIMES [file photo]
The No. 11 men’s soccer team secured the first outright Golden State Athletic Conference championship in franchise history after beating Arizona Christian University on the road on Oct. 31. Biola was named GSAC Champion in 2002, but shared it with two other teams.
One Point Ahead
Biola won conference by only one point ahead Vanguard University in GSAC rankings. With only one game left in the season, the Eagles knew they had to beat ACU to win GSAC. Arizona only won one conference game this season and fell to Biola 5-0.
The Eagles’ first quality scoring chance came eight minutes into the game when senior midfielder Joey O’Keefe earned a penalty kick. O’Keefe missed the penalty kick, leaving the game tied 0-0.
Sophomore midfielder Jarrett Pugh finally put the Eagles on the board off an assist from freshman defender Kousei Mattox 20 minutes into the game. Two minutes later, junior midfielder Devin Leon added another goal to Biola’s total. Junior forward Leonardo Contreras was credited with the assist.
Seven minutes before the half, O’Keefe was able to redeem himself for his missed goal as he put back a shot from senior forward Stephen Tanquary that rebounded off the goalie. This marked O’Keefe’s ninth goal on the season and brought the Eagles into the half with a 3-0 lead.
Solidifying the Win
The Eagles added two goals in the second half. Midfielders junior Thomas Samoya and freshman Daniel Martinez each earned their second goals in the last game of the season. This win solidified Biola’s GSAC championship.
“It’s a great year to do it,” O’keefe said. “If we would have done it in the past it wouldn’t have had the same sentimental feeling because I’ve gone with the same guys all four years. To do it with the closest guys I’m with, and the guys that I have been doing it with for four years, it’s something special.”
A Complete Sweep
Not only did Biola win conference, but they also earned a complete sweep of the three yearly conference awards. O’keefe was voted GSAC Player of the Year after three consecutive years of making All-Conference and finishing his senior year with nine goals and five assists. GSAC Newcomer of the Year was awarded to Contreras, who scored eight goals and set up six assists on the year. Head coach Todd Elkins also earned GSAC Coach of the Year in only his third season of coaching men’s soccer. Senior midfielder John Hanscom and Mattox were also honored by making the All-Gsac team.
The Eagles earned a first round bye for the GSAC Tournament, and will play in the semifinals against the lowest remaining seed from the opening round. The game will take place at Biola on Nov. 12. Winning the tournament would guarantee the Eagles a trip to NAIA Nationals.
A Storybook Ending
Regardless of how the postseason plays out, winning the first outright conference title in franchise has provided a storybook ending for the six graduating seniors.
“Even if worst case scenario and it came to an end, it’s a successful year,” O’Keefe said. “Regardless of what it is I have all these brothers for life. I value so much more the guys on the team — more than the trophy.”