Bartlesville, Okla. — Oklahoma Wesleyan men’s soccer picked up a battling 1-0 victory over the nation’s No. 9 ranked MidAmerica Nazrene University at home on Wednesday evening.
After last year’s slug fest between the two ranked teams, this year provided the same atmosphere. Last year’s encounter went to a challenging 110 minutes and in the end in a 1-1 double overtime draw.
However, this term, the Eagles, ranked 14th in the NAIA National Poll managed to secure a narrow victory, although the result could very well have gone the other way, as MidAmerica Nazrene University had numerous chances to equalise and even take the win.
In fact, it was MidAmerica Nazrene who nearly took an early advantage, but saw a strike glanced off the post in the opening 10 minutes of action.
That attempt apparently woke up OKWU as their energy immediately increased.
“The guys are learning to work,” head coach Jamie Peterson said after the game. “After the loss in California to Biola, we had to reevaluate our efforts.
“We are a talented team, but if we don’t work it is all a waste.
The Peterson coached side was then reward in the 27th minute when a counter attack involving Lucas Corderio and Lucas Almeida provided the ideal cross for striker Jack McGowan to head home for the 1-0 lead.
The goals was McGowan’s second of the season, while Almeida, who provided the final cross, increased his assist tally to five on the year, which leads the MCAC Conference.
OKWU also missed a number of other chances to increased the lead, including a chance to put MNU away when Brandon Disney slotted a ball into the box to Almeida, who put a decent effort on frame – only to see Chris Ericksson pulling off a tremendous save to keep MNU in the game.
With time running out and defeat on the cards, MidAmerica Nazrene University increased the pressure in the closing minutes, but the Eagles defended strongly, with Luka Stojanovic coming up with some fine saves to help the home side to their second consecutive shut-out.
“A 1-0 result is a great result,” Peterson said. “Sure we love to score goals, but when you get to the National Tournament you have to have experience winning close games.
“MNU made it to the National Semi-finals last year and they have a lot of experience, so for us to pull off a win against such a great program, we are excited about our progress.
“It was a team effort and a great team win.”
Oklahoma Wesleyan University takes on Oklahoma City University next Tuesday night in Oklahoma City.