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AlumNews: Talon Articles

Eagles receive surprise bid to regional tournament

Saturday, November 3, 2007  
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By Tyler Hancock

After a 1-0 loss to John Brown University on Saturday, it appeared the men’s soccer team’s season had come to an end. On Wednesday, Oklahoma Christian University received news their season will continue as they were given an at-large bid in the NAIA Region VI Men’s Soccer Tournament.

“I was honestly surprised to find out we had gotten in,” senior defender Adam Barnes said. “After the loss on Saturday we knew there was a slim chance we could get in, but we weren’t counting on it.”

The loss to John Brown came in the opening round of the Sooner Athletic Conference Tournament. The Eagles entered the game as the No. 3 seed and the loss to No. 6 seed John Brown did not help their chances of receiving a spot in the regional bracket.

Cristian Fernandes and Tyler Brady had good scoring opportunities in the first half against John Brown but Fernandes’ shot was saved by the goalkeeper and Brady’s shot sailed just wide of the goal.

The game remained scoreless into the 88th minute when Nick Robbins took the ball in heavy traffic and found the back of the net for the game’s lone goal. Juan Iraola assisted Robbins on the score.

The loss dropped the Eagle’s record to 7-6-2.

“We played well but just didn’t get a good bounce there at the end,” Barnes said. “It was a disappointing finish for us.”

Now the Eagles turn their attention to the regional tournament as they try to put the loss to John Brown behind them.

“We have to turn up the intensity,” Barnes said. “We still have a chance to turn things around and make this a better season. I think we may have lost some of that intensity here recently, but we have an opportunity here and we need to take advantage of it.”

The Eagles received the No. 4 seed in the six team single-elimination bracket and will take on No. 5 seed Rogers State University (Okla.).

In the regular season game at Rogers State, the Hillcats and Eagles played to a 2-2 double-overtime tie. Chris Rogers scored two first half goals for Rogers State and it looked like the Eagles were on their way the second loss of their season.

Fernandes got the Eagles on the board in the 58th minute of the second half when he scored on a Penalty kick. With 3:42 left in the, Pablo Hernandez evened the score off a Jason Frei assist and Oklahoma Christian shut-out Rogers State in the half to force overtime.

Fernandes has been the Eagles top scorer all season, leading the Eagles with 15 goals and 32 points. He ranks second in the SAC in goals scored and ranks eighth overall in the NAIA in goals per game.

For Oklahoma Christian, each game represents a chance to continue their season and reach their goals, but they aren’t looking too far ahead.

“It’s one game at a time from here on out,” Barnes said. “We hope we can make a run through the tournament and get to nationals, but we have to focus on the first game. Hopefully we’ll come out and work hard in practice and prepare the best we can. Right now we’re just worried about Rogers State.”

The Eagles will take on Rogers State at 8 p.m. Saturday night at Oklahoma Christian. The winner of the contest will play either No. 1 seed Southern Nazarene University or No. 2 seed Oklahoma City University. The winner of the tournament receives an automatic bid to the NAIA National Tournament.

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