Eagles claim GSAC Tournament
Men’s soccer earns a spot in NAIA nationals after winning the GSAC Tournament. To view the photo gallery from the event, click here. | Katie Evensen/THE CHIMES
The Biola men’s soccer team won the Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament on Nov. 14 when they beat Vanguard University by a sole goal scored in the final three minutes of the game. This win placed the Eagles in the NAIA National Tournament for the first time since 2011.
FOUGHT THEIR WAY
Biola’s first obstacle between themselves and the GSAC championship was Hope International University in the semifinal round on Nov. 12. Biola was able to pull out a 3-2 victory, despite being forced to play a man short for a majority of the game after a controversial red card called on junior midfielder Devin Leon 38 minutes into the game.
The goals were scored by junior forward Leonardo Contreras, senior midfielder John Hanscom and senior defenseman Christhian Aparicio. This win advanced the Eagles to the championship round of the tournament against the Vanguard Lions.
Vanguard fought their way into the championship round by a 2-1 win over The Master’s College that went into double overtime.
UNTIL THE FINAL SECONDS
The championship game stayed close until the final seconds of the game. It took 87 minutes until the first goal was scored. Contreras received a through ball from senior midfielder Joey O’Keefe in the Lion’s box. While the goalkeeper reached for the ball, Contreras slid and reversed the direction to send the ball into the back left corner of the net. Biola took a 1-0 lead with only three minutes left in regulation.
“When that happened I was just so in awe, It felt like it wasn’t real,” Contreras said. “Just knowing that I was doing it all for our seniors and for our team, I love my team and that was just awesome to do that.”
Vanguard did not give up easily, pressuring senior goalkeeper J.T. Addington until the final seconds. In the last minute, the Lions placed a shot on goal that Addington deflected. Vanguard found the rebound and hit a header to potentially tie the game but went wide. Biola won the GSAC Tournament 1-0.
“We knew we had it,” O’Keefe said. “Any of the chances that we had given up was outside the box, nothing was very lethal. I don’t think they had a lethal chance all game, the scariest part of the game was the last second.”
ONE THING ON THEIR MIND
Despite the loss, Vanguard still snuck into the NAIA National Tournament based off of their NAIA rankings.
The Eagles will head to Salem, Ore. for the first round of nationals against Corban University on Nov. 21.
“It feels like a culmination of so many hours, so much hard work — finally getting to this,” O’Keefe said. “Right after this celebration right now we got one more thing on our mind. We got to win that next game to get to [the second round of] nationals.”
If Biola beats Corban they will become one of 16 teams across the country heading to Florida to continue play in the national tournament.