Royals Knock Off Ranked Randolph In Intense ODAC Win
Rarely has a scoreless half of soccer been so intense. The Eastern Mennonite men grabbed a 2-1 lead at halftime over No. 25 Randolph and held off the WildCats in the second to pick up a huge ODAC win.
The Royals got a number of looks early and nearly scored in the fifth minute when Barkot Akalu (Addis Abeba, Ethiopia/Lycee Guebre Mariam) received a perfect through ball and beat the goalie, but pushed the ball just left.
The WildCats got their first shots two minutes later and scored in the eighth minute when Jacob Hood punched in long cross.
The back-and-forth play continued as Akalu fired a long shot after a corner in the 17th, but Randolph's keeper deflected the ball and made a save. Brent Yoder (Sarasota, FL/Sarasota Christian) finally earned the equalizer for EMU, knocking in a corner kick from Kevin Chico (Harrisonburg, VA/Eastern Mennonite) in the 30th minute.
The men continued to control the half and finally took the lead just 45 seconds before the break. Forward Mitchell Leap (Harrisonburg, VA/Eastern Mennonite) took a pass from Bryce Shank (Harrisonburg, VA/Eastern Mennonite), dribbled once to get behind the WildCats' keeper and hit the net to make it 2-1.
EMU out-shot Randolph 10-4 in the first 45 minutes, including 4-1 in shots on goal.
Randolph tried to come out strongly in the second, but the Royals took over momentum quickly. Jared Ross (Sarasota, FL/Sarasota Christian) nearly scored on a direct kick from just outside the box. Later, the men had a flurry in the box but the Randolph keeper made two physical stops.
The physical play continued and a yellow was issued to the visitor's goalie, Carter Smith. The WildCats responded and earned a pair of corners, but Patrick Fox (Virginia Beach, VA/Kempsville) made a nice play to preserve the lead.
For a stretch there were more fouls called than shots taken, and then Fox made a couple of nice saves in the 78th and 79th minutes.
With 6:30 remaining, Muoka Musau (Ashburn, VA/Stone Bridge) got breathlessly close to adding another EMU goal. He launched a long shot which Smith deflected up. The ball continued towards the goal, but Smith had just enough time to get back underneath it and stop it from crossing into the net.
Leap drew out the keeper a minute late but his long shot sailed wide. Musau had another fine look with 4:32 left, but Smith made the stop.
In the end, the defense made the lead stand as they held Randolph without a shot over the final 10:20.
Each team had eight shots in the second while Randolph had a 3-1 edge in corners. The Royals had an 8-4 advantage in corners for the game. The physical game drew 31 whistles for fouls, with the WildCats having 22. Randolph also inked four yellow cards.
Fox finished with four saves and a handful of other nice plays in the win. Smith had five saves for Randolph.
Leap now has seven goals this season and took over sole possession of fifth place on the EMU Career Points leaderboard with 72. Jason Moore and Jim Sieber each have 70. Leap is also tied with Jeff Shank for fourth at 32 goals.
Yoder picked a great time for his first goal since his sophomore season. The senior has three in his EMU career.
The Royals advance to 5-4-1 overall, but more importantly gain the conference win and move to 3-0 in the ODAC. The WildCats, ranked No. 25 in the D3soccer.com poll, take their first loss and slide to 8-1 and 1-1.
Eastern Mennonite puts its three-game winning streak on the line next Tuesday when the men travel to take on No. 1 Messiah in a non-conference game.