KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- In their final game of the season, the Sabercats were outplayed and outscored against Pensacola Christian College.
With a 4-0 loss to PCC, the Sabercats see a memorable season end with an 8-9-2 record and their first appearance at Nationals in five years.
- Result: #5 Maranatha 0-4 #4 Pensacola
- Venue: Austin-Tindall Regional Park
- Location: Kissimmee, Fla.
- Attendance: 137
- Records: MBU (8-9-2), PCC (14-8-0)
The Eagles were the sharper team in the opening minutes, as they went straight for the throat in the first few possessions of the game. The Pensacola persistence paid off in the 18th minute when Paul Stewart sent a laser into the top corner from 25 yards out. The Eagles had the advantage on the scoreboard, and they had the upper hand in the game.
From there, the Sabercats could do little to challenge their competitors. Tyler Nelson had a shot saved by the Eagles' goalkeeper, and Zeke Steuerwald sent a hard shot just wide of the PCC post, but by halftime, PCC had dominated the opening 45 minutes and the Sabercats were in need of a serious regrouping.
The second half storyline changed, but only to make the game more lopsided in favor of the South Region Champions. Riley Buchalski weaved his way down the left wing and slipped in a shot at the near post in the 64th minute, and that second goal seemed to take away what little life the Sabercats had left.
The dagger came in the 77th minute when the Eagles scored twice in a span of just 20 seconds. Jake McLelland did the honors for the third goal with a close-range finish from the right side of the six-yard box, then Rafael Sanzio hit a show-stopper from 30 yards into the upper corner to put the game away for good.
Tim Kinzler limited further damage in the second half, making back-to-back saves at one point on the way to eight total saves in the game. The junior goalkeeper made 18 saves in the two-game stretch this week for the Sabercats.
As the game came to a close, the Sabercats saw an otherwise noteworthy season fade to a finish under the warm Florida sun, as they fell at Nationals in the final game of the season.
This was the final game for Maranatha's 14 seniors, who contributed in significant ways to get Maranatha back to nationals for the first time in five years:
Garrett Gleason, Kevin Risma, Brendan Burckart, Tyler Nelson, Nathan Campbell, Asa St. Lawrence, Austin DeAngelo, Eldiiar Amankulov, Andrew Ice, Josh Hockema, Joel Shepard, Caleb Hockema, Taylor Dafoe, and Teddy Kincaid all conclude their Maranatha careers in the loss.
MBU Starters: 1- Kinzler, 2- Risma (C), 4- Roer, 7- Nelson, 8- Campbell, 10-St. Lawrence (C), 12- Steuerwald, 13- Amankulov, 15- J. Hockema, 18- Shepard, 19- C. Hockema (C)
- Shot count: Maranatha 4-38 Pensacola
- Nelson: 2 shots, 1 shot on goal
- Kinzler: 8 saves on the day
- Series: This was the first matchup in the series
- Pensacola competes in the NCCAA DII South Region.
- Pensacola won the national title in 2017
- Pensacola had their first intercollegiate season in 2016
A full recap of the season will be coming at mbusabercats.com.