Friday night, dedicated as Faculty Appreciation Night, was memorialized in true collegiate style by the Bruins men’s soccer team.
Mimicking college students’ propensity for last-minute paper and project delivery to their teachers, the Bruins delivered a game-winning goal in the last possible seconds. Overpowering the Tennessee Temple Crusaders 2-1, the Bruins pulled off an impressive win down to the nail-biting finish.
The Bruins wasted no time in attacking the goal. Within the opening minute, freshman AJ Redlinger had already placed a near shot on net. Thirty seconds later, the Crusaders counter-attacked with a close miss against senior goalie Joseph Wooster. These initial thrusts into both opponents’ territories accelerated the game early on and ignited the crowd’s intensity.
The game settled into an intense match for possession as both teams crisscrossed the field, fighting to gain control. As the half progressed, the Bruins’ stamina seemed to slowly drain away. Despite heavy pressure, the Crusader offense relentlessly pushed against the home team, wearing down the defense. But the Bruins rallied with eight minutes left and managed to slip through the opponent’s defense, taking a shot that went wide by a foot. With one minute left, the Bruins executed the same play with the same result – a near miss. The scoreboard still stood 0-0, but now both teams were hungry for that first goal.
During halftime, team captains Travis Woodham and Ryan McCarty addressed the faculty in recognition of their impact on students’ lives and education. Thanking the professors and staff for their ministry and commitment to biblical teaching, the players gave a commendation that was a fitting tribute for Faculty Appreciation Night.
Although the Bruins began the second half with the usual starting intensity, resistance seemed to decline as the Crusaders continued their first-half war of attrition.
After 15 minutes of competition, Tennessee Temple managed to slip a low shot past Wooster into the far corner of the net. With the score at 1-0, the Bruins now faced an uphill climb. But that goal also provided the motivational spark needed to fire up the team. The Bruins began stabbing deeper into Crusader territory, creating opportunities and taking shots.
With less than 20 minutes left in the game, junior Travis Woodham lobbed a shot over the Crusader keeper from 30 yards out to tie the game at 1-1. Although his first goal of the season, Woodham’s single shot was heard around the field. The Bruins and Crusaders, both fighting to claim a win, escalated their play as the half progressed. Both teams battered away at each other in a desperate battle to score the single goal that could seal the game. Ryan McCarty brought the ball down inside the Crusaders’ 18-yard line with only 3.8 seconds left. With a single pivot, he sent a rocket into the upper corner of the net for the game-winning goal with only three seconds left.
In summarizing the game, Woodham said, “We can show that we can play with confidence and passion. We have sparks of it, and we know what we’re capable of. And the positive thing is that we have to have that drive and desire to win every match just like we did with Tennessee Temple. We were down 1-0, and we didn’t give up. In that match, the biggest positive was saying we’re not going to give up. We’re going to keep pressing on, and that’s our theme this year.”