DUBUQUE, Iowa -- Down 0-2 at halftime and with no momentum to speak of, the Sabercats rallied to score four eye-catching goals in a 20-minute stretch to beat #10 Emmaus Bible College this afternoon.
It was a comeback to remember, and it could prove to be a crucial result come the NCCAA postseason.
- Result: Maranatha 4-3 #10 Emmaus
- Venue: Clarke University
- Location: Dubuque, Iowa
- Attendance: 142
- Records: MBU (2-9-0, 2-1-0 NCCAA), EBC (6-3-1, 4-2-1 NCCAA)
It was all about Emmaus in the opening minutes, as the Eagles showed notable improvement and determination compared to prior seasons. The pressure paid off just under 10 minutes in, as EBC's Anthony Flores took a shot from the top of the box that deflected into the bottom corner. Emmaus 1-0 Maranatha.
The hosts kept the momentum going and they stifled the Sabercats' attack for the majority of the first half. The second goal came with 10 minutes left in the half, as Wakilongo Ebake got on the end of a long pass and finished bravely from inside the box. At halftime, Emmaus had the momentum, the scoreboard, and a spirited crowd on their side.
But just over 12 minutes into the second half, the game began to change.
The Sabercats began to sustain possession and create chances, and they were soon rewarded when Zeke Steuerwald took a well-placed shot from 25 yards that bounced into the left corner, giving new life to MBU.
Then just two minutes later, Nathan Campbell bent a textbook free kick from 30 yards out into the top-left corner to tie the game in spectacular fashion. Just like that, the Sabercats had gone from anxiety to ecstasy. And it would only get better.
At the 72 minute mark, Bryant Sturgill cashed in for another key goal at another key time. The freshman collected a loose ball at the top of the box and picked out the bottom-right corner past the diving Eagles' goalkeeper to make it a 3-2 game in Maranatha's favor. Sturgill's goal truly turned the game on its head.
As an exclamation mark, John Zockoll provided the fourth goal seven minutes after Sturgill's. A loose ball 20 yards away from Emmaus' goal bounced right into the senior's path, and Zockoll pounded a first-time volley into the side netting, giving the Eagles' goalkeeper no chance. Everything was going in for MBU, and the once-lively Emmaus fans were left speechless.
The Eagles were determined to make something out of the game, and they pulled one goal back just two minutes later when Mason McCarl scored another deflected goal for Emmaus. Just like that, the game had new life, and it gave the Sabercats a legitimate cause for concern.
The last 10 minutes were frantic, as MBU had to defend against a hard Emmaus onslaught. Andrew Taylor and the Sabercats' back line had more action than they would have liked, but they did the job to close out the game despite constant pressure from the eager Emmaus attack. The game was a definitive "tale of two halves", and it had all the makings of a classic collegiate regional rivalry.
- Ebake: 5 shots, 1 goal, 1 assist
- Flores, McCarl: both had 3 shots, all on goal
- MBU: each player that scored did so with their only shot
- Taylor: 8 saves on the day
- Series: Maranatha leads the all-time series, 4-0-0
- The Eagles join MBU in competing for the NCCAA DII North Region
- Emmaus has played most of their games within the NCCAA Division II this season
- The Eagles broke into the NCCAA Top 10 rankings last week and have retained their #10 spot
The Sabercats will visit the Illinois Tech Scarlet Hawks in Chicago on Monday night at 6:00 p.m. Follow at mbusabercats.com/composite.