By Jon Crossman
WATERTOWN, Wisconsin—After a historic win over Maranatha, the men's soccer team only had one more contender to beat (the Archers of Moody Bible Institute) to become regional champs. Coming off a hard-fought game against Maranatha and only a night's rest to prepare for the final game, the Eagles knew it would be a sizeable challenge even before stepping out of the locker room.
Without any knowledge of Moody's caliber since the Archers had yet to play a game, the Eagles started out with a strong defensive stance in the first half. With starting wing James Busenitz out due to injuries, the freshman speedster Hanan Lindow was added to the starting lineup, giving Faith some energy deep in the opponents end and some amazing early plays off forced turnovers. Moody played a dangerous offense along the goal line early in the half, allowing for a total of six corner kicks in the Faith endzone before ten minutes had expired off the clock. Goaltender Ramon Hernandez kept a solid wall built in front of the Eagles net for all six corners, allowing for the Faith midfield to transition into the other end and find a penalty kick opportunity off a hand ball in the box. Joshua Forgie took the kick for Faith, barely missing in a shot that went wide left at the 20:57 mark. Both teams exchanged several more shots before Moody finally capitalized off an unfortunate play to score the first goal of the game with 4:19 left in the half. Faith trailed just 1-0 at halftime.
Hoping to get the game back to an even fight, the Eagles' offense rapidly changed to a more aggressive tactic in the second half. After a few balls were dumped in the Moody half by long passes, the midfield began to open up for Moody's quick center players, and a series of misfortunate touches allowed for 4 more goals against Faith, all occurring between the 49:51 and 54:09 marks of the game.
The Eagles played more conservatively after the fifth goal was scored, breaking down on their opponents scoring momentum and locking in up top against their split passes to prevent any more shooting opportunities. Despite being down in the last third of the game, the Faith defense continued to play out of their minds and discourage quick players like Moody's Will Snyder from making runs. The Archers finished the game out with 17 shots on goal, while Faith finished with one shot on frame from Jon Crossman.
Even with a season full of ups and downs, the men's soccer team continued to show their perseverance in the post-season and left everything on the field in a truly dignified way. Faith's sportsmanship shone through even in times of conflict on the field, with the Eagles showing equal respect for both their opponents and the officiators. In the words of coach Gary Backous, this year's men's soccer team served as an excellent foundation for the future of the Faith soccer program, in both their playing and attitude. Gary Backous will return as the head coach of the Eagles next season, hoping to build off of the firm rudiments that were set to build a more powerful team that will work in tandem to keep the fundamentals learned in the trying season. Even with the offseason, as returning players train and the seniors move on to a new chapter, they are sure to remember the greatest feeling of finding a new family in their teammates and coaches from the 2020-2021 season.