The Golden Eagles men’s soccer team fell to Omaha in a season-ending 2-0 loss while competing in the team’s first Summit League conference tournament game on Saturday.
Despite the abrupt end to their season, ORU head coach Ryan Bush maintained a positive attitude.
“We’re pleased with the performance of the group overall considering the age and youthfulness of the team,” said Bush. “We played a lot of teams that had been ranked in the top 25, and the group has competed very well.”
According to Coach Bush, up to 8 of the 11 starters throughout the season were consistently freshmen.
“It’s hard to be young in college soccer, because most programs are playing fourth and fifth year seniors,” Bush said. “But they’re learning to adapt to the college game.”
ORU’s senior night against Western Illinois proved to be a heartbreaking loss for the team.
“The winning goal scored against us in the last 20 seconds was really gut-wrenching,” said Tyler LaCourse, sophomore defender. Throughout the season the Golden Eagles 4-11-1 record resulted from five games lost at the death, meaning they were lost either in overtime or in the last minute of the game.
“The most important thing about those losses isn’t that they happened, but what we learned from them on the back end,” said Coach Bush. “The guys have learned how to manage the last five or ten minutes of a game. Those things will come with time, experience and failure.”
For six members of the team, their time in the program has ended, one of who is Corey Cantor, senior captain and leading goal scorer of the 2017 season with four goals scored.
“The coaches put a lot of emphasis on playing hard for the seniors,” Lacourse recalled. “They’ve brought a lot to our program.”
The Golden Eagles will now spend the spring semester preparing for next season. They will compete in five exhibition games, as well as endure weeks of strength and conditioning and participate in leadership training.
“A lot of the spring for us is about who we are as a team,” Bush said. “The fall is more of a test of what we produced in the spring.”
Bush believes the incoming class will be one of the most talented in ORU men’s soccer history, but they will need time to adjust.
“By the time this class ages and matures, I believe this team will be a conference championship contender every year,” he said.
The Golden Eagles women’s soccer team fell 1-0 to the Denver Pioneers in the semifinal round of the Summit League conference tournament on Nov. 2 in Fargo, North Dakota. The lone goal, scored off a cross within the first minute of the game, proved to be a fatal blow.
ORU finished with an overall record of 8-10-1 and 121 total shots on goal, with 26 finding the back of the net. The Golden Eagles won five of their seven Summit League conference games this year.
“The team has grown a lot since preseason,” said Anna Gornell, sophomore midfielder. “We had a rocky start, but overcame those adversities in time to be ready for our conference games.”
Brooklyn Eardley and Jordan Langebartels were named to the Summit League All-League First Team for their performance throughout the 2017 season. Brianna McGowan, Jessica Misquez and Amogelang Motau were named to the all-freshman team.
Langebartels led the team with six goals on the season, tying for fifth in the Summit League for goals scored.
Ryliegh Bohnenstiehl, junior goalkeeper for the Golden Eagles, earned two consecutive Player of the Week accolades during the season. Bohnenstiehl boasted a total of 67 saves and four shutouts.
Two of the eight wins in the season resulted from overtime play against South Dakota and Denver, both Summit League conference teams.
ORU’s stellar performance this year was not without difficulty. Multiple players sustained injuries and were placed in and out of the starting lineup, forcing the coaches to reconfigure positions.
“One of our center backs got injured early on and we were unsure who would replace her,” said Gornell. “But Caroline Frank stepped up and did a phenomenal job.”
Frank was a team captain this year and is one of the eight seniors retiring their ORU uniforms. The team will now spend both the spring semester and summer healing from injuries and preparing for 2018-2019 year.