The Emmaus men's soccer team began a five game home stretch on Friday night by taking on the Thunder of Manhattan Christian College (Manhattan, KS). It was the Thunder's first trip to Dubuque after having defeated the NCCAA Division II #5 ranked Randall University on Tuesday. Emmaus, for their part, entered the game having won their previous two conference matches and looking for a third.
The opening minutes were rough for the Eagles as they struggled to adjust to Manhattan's speed of play. Manhattan took advantage and struck in the 5th minute when speedster Matthews (#5) made a run down the left flank and found Lewallen (#20) with a low cross who finished to the corner for the 1-0 lead.
The goal served to awaken the Eagles who began to find feet and settled down in the midfield. In the 17th minute Anthony Flores (#10) sent a deep pass to Joe Olson (#3) who was fouled by the Thunder keeper in the box, earning a penalty kick for the Eagles. Midfielder Carson McBain (#11) stepped up and put the shot away to knot the score at ones. The rest of the half so both teams battle back and forth with Manhattan controlling possession but struggling to create quality chances against a scrappy and determined Eagle defense.
The second half started much the same as the first despite the Eagles more settled play. Following a turnover at midfield, Russel Wilson (#11) found space after a missed clearance and threaded a pass in to forward Alex Van Nort (#17) who managed to chip the ball just over the diving keeper Eric Rasmussen (#00) and into the side of the net.
Trailing 2-1 the Eagles looked to rebound and pushed for an equalizer. Despite several good build-ups, the Thunder defense, led by outstanding senior defender Sam Heryford (#3) managed to prevent many dangerous scoring chances. The final score of 2-1 stood with both teams having made a strong showing.
"Manhattan is a quality team with great speed and discipline, and their coach, Rick Wright, always has his guys ready to play. I was really pleased with the way our guys fought today as they once again proved that we can play with anyone in the conference this year. I was even more pleased by the way both teams conducted themselves in the match today. They were aggressive, but classy. I can't tell you how many players were helped up from the ground by opponents. What a joy to see young men from both sides give their all while keeping their heads and representing Christ well." (Coach Brown)
The Eagles will be back in action tomorrow (10/1) as they host the Red Lions of Lincoln Christian University (Lincoln, IL). Kickoff is slated for 2:00.