For the first time in decades, society allegiance deferred to campus unity at a soccer match in Alumni Stadium. Friday night, “Growl Towels” replaced Spartan swords, Bruins tees upstaged Omega crewnecks, and a caricature of Dr. Bob rose above the crowd, taking the place of the Alpha Pig.
In a game providing a score more often seen after nine innings of baseball than 90 minutes of soccer, the Southern Wesleyan University Warriors proved why they deserve their No. 7 preseason Southern States Athletic Conference ranking.
SWU took a quick lead at the five-minute mark thanks to a 23-yard sinking shot off the right foot of Nicolas Luque that passed just under the crossbar.
The Bruins’ Mark Sterr, a transfer from North Greenville, immediately answered by breaking away down the left wing and playing a hard shot off the Warriors’ goalkeeper, allowing senior midfielder Kai Hubbard to put the Bruins’ historic first goal into the back netting.
BJU possessed the ball with more consistency following the goal, but was unable to capitalize on some excellent scoring opportunities in the first half because of missed shots and some physical play by SWU’s goalkeeper.
The Warriors fared differently, and their small-ball style of possession offense facilitated two more goals before the halftime whistle blew.
“That’s how our team practices every day,” Warriors’ forward Douglas Andrade said. “We try to possess the ball for as much time as we can.”
Two minutes into the second half, Andrade, the leading offensive threat for the Warriors, scored the second of his three goals from the six-yard mark, giving SWU a 4-1 advantage.
“We come out to the game, and [scoring goals] is what I’m supposed to do,” he said. “Fortunately, everything went right today, and we won the game.”
Daniel Pena gave Southern Wesleyan one more goal off a weakly cleared corner kick before the Bruins struck back with goals by Mark Sterr and Matt Moore off of beautiful assists by Jordan Allen and Ryan Beadles, respectively. Three more goals came from the Warriors, including a third goal from Andrade. Jordan Allen assisted midfielder David Overly on a free kick to give the Bruins their fourth and final goal of the game.
When asked about how nerves or excitement might have affected the players on such a historic night, Allen spoke for the team. “Obviously, it’s very exciting to play in front of so many people, but our team has a theme of magnifying Christ, and honestly, when Christ is your focus, you don’t get nervous,” he said.
In spite of the loss, head coach Jesse McCormick was positive about the team’s performance.
“[SWU] is going to be one of the best teams we play all year, and although we need to tighten up some things defensively, it’s great to come away with four goals and it’s something to move forward with,” he said.