ANKENY, Iowa—You won't find many harder-fought games than the Faith Eagles men's soccer team played in the regional semifinal against top-seed Providence on Friday. You won't find a bunch of kids that showed more heart and grit, which put it all on the line more than Coach Sauser's bunch did as extreme underdogs against the #4 team in the nation. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite enough.
Faith's defense held Providence scoreless for over 100 minutes before the Pilots snuck a goal through the net with just a few minutes remaining in double overtime for the 1-0 win.
The Eagles had several golden opportunities to score in the second half of regulation, but the Providence defense came up with deflating stops each time. Still, the Eagles battled on, matching each Pilots stop with an edge-of-your-seat stop of their own.
As the game entered the first overtime, Faith seemed to have all the momentum, with the home crowd, the home-field advantage, and the pressure squarely on the number one seed in the region. As the clock wound down in the final 20 seconds, the Eagles had two spectacular shots on goal that could have won the game. The first was a shot by Andrew Young that went wide left. The second was an even more breathtaking moment on a corner kick and a header by Chase Clark that hit the post with less than five seconds remaining.
The air seemed to go out of the Eagles' balloon some in the second overtime following the near-misses that ended the first OT. Providence dominated possession of the ball, and a skirmish near the Eagles' goal allowed a Pilots player to get a foot on the ball, striking it past a diving Jason Conable for the win.
The loss marks the end of Jordan Sauser's successful tenure as coach of the Faith Eagles men's soccer team as he and his family prepare to serve in the ministry of Harvest Baptist Church in Williamsburg, Iowa. The Eagles finished their season with a record of 10-12. Faith returns the bulk of its roster next year with just two graduating seniors.