This archived article was written by: Austin Fietkau
The Eagles left their nest the last two weekends, playing in Henderson, Nev., on the 8-9, and Salt Lake City on the 16-17. The team has now played four games in conference play, and results have “not quite been what [they have] wanted,” according to head coach Ammon Bennett.
On Sept. 8, USUE battled against College of Southern Nevada on the Coyote’s home field. One of the Eagles’ captains, Kenneth Marse, said that the heat was intense and definitely played a factor in their inability to “really show up” during the match.
The team suffered a 5-1 loss against CSN, a shocking loss to anyone who witnessed the first portion of the game as it was tied up 1-1 at the end of the first half.
Marse and Bennett both agreed that CSN’s overall gameplay was faster and smarter in the second half. “Honestly we looked like a road team. We looked like a tired road team. We just didn’t look sharp; and they were able to take advantage of it.”
CSN went on to score four goals in the second half.
The next day USUE took on Allen Hancock College from Southern California. The Eagles were tired, having played in 100-degree weather the day before. As the game began, both teams were equally matched.
The players from both sides attacked with vigor, creating an intense stalemate which ended the first half in a draw: 0-0.
The second half began, and soon Bryson Johnson, freshman forward for the Eagles, put one in for his team. CSN quickly answered with a goal of their own bumping the score 1-1.
The tilt ended in a tie; and although a step up from their loss the day before, assistant coach Jared Woodhouse was not satisfied with the result, “We didn’t come down here for a loss and a tie.”
Marse said he felt that a big reason for the results that weekend were due to the effort given in training sessions leading up to the games.
“We’re not training as hard as these other teams are training. We only gave 50 percent at practice so we could only give 50 percent here.” Woodhouse added that effort at practice during the next week “had better be there,” or next weekend’s games would be “rough.”
The Sept. 16-17’s double header against Salt Lake Community College Bruins was by far the most anticipated match-up of the season for the Eagles.
Multiple players said they’d been looking forward to these games since before the season even started. Two of last year’s starters for USUE, Cody Oliver (left back) and Michael Brady (center back), both now play for the Bruins. Thus, Eagle returners were eager to face-off against their old teammates and to prove whose side was dominant.
This game was going to be personal.
Foul after foul were called on both teams throughout the first game, resulting in multiple injuries for the Bruins and the Eagles. “We’ll be lucky if we have enough players to play tomorrow’s game,” one player joked.
Marse played striker and managed to pressure the Bruin’s defense into making a critical mistake in their own goal box, forcing SLCC to score on themselves.
Later on in the game the Bruin’s put the ball in the back of the net for their team, forcing the Eagles into an all too familiar predicament: a 1-1 score.
After 90 minutes of regulation, and an additional 20 minutes of overtime, neither side was able to break the draw. Tired and wounded, both teams were forced to rest and heal until the next day’s bout.
The rematch was held Saturday afternoon, and the emotion from the previous day’s game had only intensified. The hill which sat just west of the field was stuffed with fans eager to see how the Bruins and the Eagles would perform.
USUE mixed things up a little, putting some of their biggest bodies in the striker position. One of these bodies was Paco Alcala. The 6-foot tall center back fulfilled his new role as goal-scorer by flicking a long cross with his head just over the finger-tips of the Bruin’s goalie.
The game continued with a score of 1-0 for the Eagles. Yellow cards were given, injuries were accumulated and SLCC scored off of a penalty kick.
Once again, regulation time turned to overtime.
As the second period of overtime was wrapping up, the Bruins sent a long cross into the Eagle’s goal box. USUE defenders attempted to clear it out with their heads, but without success. The ball took a bad bounce and Eagle goalie Spencer Brown was unable to reach it.
The match ended with that goal, a sudden death for the Eagles and a heart wrenching loss for all Eagle fans in attendance.
Bennett and Woodhouse reassured their team after the match, letting them know that the past week was the hardest either of them had seen their players work all season. They were proud despite the unfortunate outcome.
The Eagles will have a chance for revenge with the advantage of playing them on their home field on Oct. 11, 2016.
The Eagles play Sept. 23-24 against Sheridan College and Northwest College at home. The games will be played at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. respectively after the completion of the women’s games.