ANKENY, Iowa—After 109 minutes and 46 seconds of scoreless soccer, it all came down to one shot.
The tenth-ranked Emmaus Eagles were in town Tuesday afternoon for a conference showdown with the red-hot Faith Eagles, winners of four in a row. The game was a physical, grind-it-out event, which can be summed up most accurately as a defensive masterpiece by the young Eagles defense. Two sophomores (Daniel Moore and Sawyer Gogerty) and two freshmen (Daniel Guess and Noah Zollinger) each played the full 110 minutes—an amazing statistic considering the ball was on the defensive side of the field most of the game for Faith.
Emmaus dominated the time of possession and shots offensively, with 20 shots (seven on goal) versus just three shots the entire match for the Faith offense. Time and time again, the Eagles' defense came up with huge stops, holding an Emmaus offense (which had outscored its opponents 19-4 over its last six games) scoreless through the first 90 minutes of regulation.
After another 10 minutes of scoreless soccer in the first overtime, the game headed to a second and final overtime. The weary Eagles defense bent, and looked like it may break, with Emmaus getting five really good shots on goal. Just when it looked like the game would end in a tie, with time running down under 30 seconds, the worst thing that could happen, happened.
With just 14 seconds remaining, a controversial foul was called on the Faith Eagles inside the penalty box, giving Emmaus a free penalty kick inside the box. The odds were highly against Faith, and a defensive effort that was as gritty and nasty as some of the players' mustaches they wore for this game looked like it was about to be wasted. According to a study in the Washington Post, the likelihood of a penalty shot going in the net is 75%.
With a large student section in attendance and the boisterous home crowd at a fever pitch, Emmaus forward Carson McBain lined up for his shot while Faith goalkeeper Daniel Moore shuffled his feet in anticipation. McBain faked to the right, trying to get Moore off his feet, and fired a bullet right down the middle, right into the chest of Moore. The ball ricocheted back to the Emmaus offense and there was one more heart-stopping, chaotic scramble in the box before time expired, with the game ending in a 0-0 tie.
For Coaches Sauser and Carlton, and the players that were on the team last year, it all felt eerily similar to the conference semifinals a year ago against this very same Emmaus team. Last October, the two teams played scoreless soccer for 78 minutes before Emmaus capitalized on a handball penalty and scored the only goal of the game, beating Faith 1-0.
"I looked at Coach Carlton and said, 'here we go again,'" said Coach Sauser in a post-game interview.
"The pressure was on them. They were the ranked team," said Coach Sauser. "It was our best defensive performance of the year. It's been building up to this. Last week, we gave up a couple of goals that were accidental, but today, we really put it all together on defense."
The game ended in a tie, but, in so many ways, it felt like a win for the Faith Eagles. They shut out the tenth-ranked Emmaus Eagles for an amazing 110 minutes, with very little time of possession on offense. With the game on the line, and the odds strongly against them, Daniel Moore's save on a penalty kick will be remembered as one of the highlights of the year for the Eagles.
The competition doesn't get any easier for Faith, as the Eagles return to action on Thursday afternoon against #2 Providence at Pyche Field. Game time is set for 4:00 p.m.