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Injury-plagued Eagles take home 4-3 overtime victory


Missing nearly a third of its players to injuries, the Oklahoma Christian University men’s soccer team managed to pull out an overtime victory in the last away game of their Texas tour.

The Eagles’ first opponent was St. Edward’s University Oct. 5. Going into the game, freshman goalkeeper Evan Helker – who made his first career start against the Hilltoppers – anticipated a rough match.

“Especially against a team like St. Ed’s, you have to go in just knowing that you’re going to have to play your best to win,” Helker said. “You can’t go in not prepared; you can’t go in staying up late the night before. You’ve got to be prepared if you want a chance against that team.”

The Eagles couldn’t hold out, however. Their only shot in the match came from senior Rodgers Otieno in the 72nd minute of the game. Facing the 4-0 loss, the team still took pride in their efforts against such a successful team.

“With a team like that, and with how many injuries we had, knowing that we lost like that with that many people gone, I don’t want to say it felt good,” Helker said. “Because it definitely didn’t feel good to lose like that, but it also reassured us that whenever those [injured] guys are back – whenever we are a healthy team – we’re definitely going to be a tough one to beat.”

On Oct. 7, the Eagles met McMurry University in Abilene, Texas for the second game in their Texas circuit. Coming off the tough loss from St. Edward’s, the team was determined to get things back on track.

Despite Oklahoma Christian outshooting the War Hawks, McMurry pulled ahead 2-0 in the second half. In his second career start Helker had four saves for the Eagles defense, but a deficiency of offense denied the team a win as it continued its slump.

The recent struggles of the team and the students’ fall break didn’t keep a crowd from supporting the Eagles on their first and only home game of their Texas tour, as they faced West Texas A&M on Oct. 10.

“I know it’s fall break, but the fan score was great [that] night,” junior Matt McLain said. “That’s been awesome, the fans coming out like they have. We’ve had a lot of support.”

The Buffalos outshot the Eagles 23-10, but McLain and freshman Sergio Flores made it impossible for McMurry to score, while Helker posted a career-high nine saves.

The game remained scoreless until the Buffalos knocked in a penalty kick in the 84th minute, pulling ahead of the Eagles 1-0.

The Eagles played the final game of their Texas tour on Monday, Oct. 14 against Dallas Baptist. Fueled by the recent losses, the team was determined to earn a win on the road.

“We’ve had some tough going the last few games with the injuries, and we made a few mistakes in those games,” Head Men’s Soccer Coach David Scott said. “It was a great feeling to get results. I think the guys have really come together despite the way things have happened and just played really well together [Monday].”

The Dallas Baptist Patriots gained a quick lead, scoring in the eighth minute. The Eagles answered with a pair of goals in the 32nd and 48th minute, with Little Axe beating the keeper for the first point and assisting sophomore Cole Rinke for the second.

Dallas Baptist tied up the game in the 52nd minute, until sophomore Ricardo Chinchilla scored with the assistance of Little Axe, his second assist of the night.

“Brandon played great,” Scott said. “He’s one guy that always works extremely hard, and [Monday] the attacking players were just clicking. Brandon’s work rate made a big difference in that. That was a great goal that he scored, and he’s a very unselfish player. He did all the hard work to open things up and then found the guys in the right spots.”

Helker broke his career record once again, posting 12 saves. However, Dallas Baptist’s Alex Becerra sneaked one past him in the final seconds off a corner kick, tying the game 3-3.

The game went into overtime, and again, it was the Chinchilla-Little Axe combo that proved fatal to the Patriots defense, as Little Axe cross-passed to the right of the goal and Chinchilla drilled it into the back of the net in the 92nd minute, giving the Eagles a 4-3 overtime victory.

Oklahoma Christian has four home games in the next two weeks on Saturdays and Mondays. According to Scott, home games are a beneficial factor in the energy the team brings to the field.

“[The players] are kind of in a little bit more of a routine of going to class and then coming out to play,” Scott said. “Plus the home crowd and everything like that, so I think it’s definitely an advantage to play at home.”

The Eagles start the home series against Texas A&M International tomorrow evening at five and St. Mary’s University Monday at noon.


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