One of the goals of the Prairie Fire men’s soccer team (1-5) is to stay focused for 90 minutes.
It took a whole 109 minutes of concentration to net their first win of the season in double overtime against the Highlanders of MacMurray College this past Sunday at Jorge Prats Field.
“For the first ten minutes, we dominated,” first-year head coach Jeff Bernhardt said.
After an 8-0 defeat at the hands of the Saints of Ashford University in Clinton, Iowa the day before, the Prairie Fire’s mentality was sharp and the team showed superior speed and skill versus the Highlanders.
Knox struck first only three minutes into the game when senior Jeff Wozencraft fed the ball to senior Jared Jaggers, who was streaking up the middle of the field. Jaggers beat the keeper for his second goal of the season.
However, only 11 minutes later, the Highlanders scored off a loose ball in front of the goal to even the score to 1-1.
The rest of the half was marked by near misses by both teams as they struggled to break the tie. The score remained tied at one until the half expired.
During the second half, tempers flared and players became more physical as both teams tried to score.
“We knew they were frustrated, so we just had to keep our heads cool,” senior Lawrence Povoas said after the game.
The Prairie Fire had a chance to pull ahead with 13 minutes left in the game when they were awarded a penalty kick.
However, freshman Michael Gasparro’s kick was blocked, and the score remained tied as time ran out.
Before the first overtime period, Bernhardt told his team that he was proud Gasparro was willing to take the kick. Knox was raring to go but unable to score.
At the beginning of the second overtime, Bernhardt said to his players: “It is all about heart. Who wants it more? They are playing for a tie. It is your game to win or lose.”
The second overtime was in a stalemate, as Knox players could not get the ball in the net.
Time was running out when sophomore Jeremy Shaw passed the ball to Povoas, who turned and shot from near the top of the box. Time seemed to slow as everyone’s eyes fixated on the ball rising over the outstretched hands of MacMurray’s keeper, Cameron Pollitt. The ball swished as it hit the back of the net–a goal in spectacular fashion with less than one minute remaining.
This past weekend marked the return of sophomore Oliver Horton and Povoas from injury.
“It is huge having them back and being able to play,” Bernhardt said, “but I will only feel comfortable when we are back to a full roster.” Sophomores Marcos Moreno and Peter Michener are still unable to play due to injuries.
The Prairie Fire men’s soccer team’s next game is Saturday, Sept. 26 at 1 p.m. when they begin their conference schedule at home against rivals Monmouth College.