WATERTOWN, Wisconsin—The first two meetings between the Maranatha Sabercats and the Faith Eagles men's soccer teams this year were last-second nail biters. Maranatha won the first one in the final 30 seconds at Faith, and the two teams played to a 1-1 double overtime tie just two weeks ago in Watertown. The third time, a spot in the regional finals was at stake, and this time, Faith came away with the victory. It is the first time the men's soccer team has ever defeated Maranatha on its home field.
The Eagles dodged multiple bullets in the first half as the defense spent a good chunk of time on their half of the field. Maranatha had 11 shots, with several close misses, but the Eagles held the line to keep the game scoreless for the first 45 minutes.
Faith came out more aggressive on offense in the second half, and it paid off with an early goal by James Busenitz, assisted by Carson Odle, at the 49:34 mark. The goal came off a rare fast break opportunity for the Eagles, and they took advantage. Busenitz was injured later in the game and was unable to finish the last 28 minutes of action.
Trailing by one, Maranatha's offense picked up its intensity as well, firing 17 shots in the second half, with Faith freshman goalkeeper Ramon Hernandez making a handful of spectacular saves. Hernandez has been an unsung hero for the Eagles all season. Faith's defense, in general, was terrific, shutting out the Sabercats for the entire 90 minutes as the clock wound to zero.
With the win, the Eagles are just one victory away from qualifying for the national tournament in Kissimmee, Florida. Faith squares off with Moody Bible Institute at 2 p.m. on Friday in Watertown, with the chance to claim the regional championship with a win.