The Bruins men’s soccer team was back in action Saturday afternoon as they participated in a round-robin style scrimmage on Stadium Field. With the heat beating down and temperatures reaching the low 80s, it was a beautiful day for competition. With two scrimmages prior to Saturday’s match, the round robin was the Bruins’ last scrimmage of the semester, and the team went 1-2 on the day.
Scrimmages are played for just one half and are 40 minutes long. The Bruins had only 14 players on hand, including some who will not be returning to play next season. Two such players are seniors Micah Inafuku, a native of Hawaii majoring in business administration, and Jordan Allen, a Bible major from Matthews, N.C. Both Inafuku and Allen have played the last two seasons and have helped to build the foundation for the Bruins soccer program.
Inafuku, who will graduate in May, said of his time with the Bruins, “I love playing at a competitive level, and the fact that it was with other Christians gave me a whole new perspective on the sport that I [have] never had before.” He said although his time on the Bruins’ squad has come to an end, he will still enjoy playing soccer for fun and using it to meet and get to know people.
During the first scrimmage, the Bruins faced off against Emmanuel College, who defeated them 2-0. The second game was better for the Bruins, as they were able to top North Greenville University 2-0 in their single victory of the day. The third game, against Southern Wesleyan University, was a hard one for both teams, although SWU walked away with the win.
Southern Wesleyan scored just one minute and eight seconds into the match to give them a one-goal advantage and the lone goal of the game. The score came off a free-kick just outside the box that found its way into the back of the net after bouncing off a couple of players close to the goal.
Less than two minutes later, SWU had another good shot opportunity, but the kick went wide left and into the possession of the Bruins.
Throughout the remainder of the match, both teams advanced the ball and earned several corner kicks, but opportunities came and went without changing the pace of the game. With five minutes left, however, sophomore Ryan McCarty made his way down the field and had a good chance to even things up. His shot went high, and it rattled off the cross-bar. Although the SWU goalie was on the ground after the shot, the defense was there to clear the ball and send it back to the safety of midfield.
The Bruins threatened again with just 55 seconds left in the game as junior Travis Woodham made his way toward the goal to take a one-on-one shot on the SWU goalkeeper. Woodham was tripped from behind and was awarded a free kick just outside the penalty box. The free kick hit the wall of SWU players, ending the match as time expired.
Next season’s roster is strong, and the Bruins are already looking toward the coming year. Optimistic about next year, McCarty said, “I saw a lot of good things from everybody. Guys were experimenting in different positions so it was just a different feel going against teams with set lineups. It was good, though, and there have definitely been improvements this offseason. I’m both encouraged and excited for next year.”