The soccer men did their part to get into the ODAC Tournament, they just had to sweat out the late games.
After earning a 3-1 win at Shenandoah to end their regular season Tuesday afternoon, it took another four hours for the Royals to clinch the eighth seed in the eight-team field. With Virginia Wesleyan ending in a 0-0 draw with first place Lynchburg, the Marlins were unable to secure the three points they needed to forge a three-way tie with EMU and Randolph, leaving them in a two-way tie for seventh.
Because of Randolph's regular season win over Eastern Mennonite, the WildCats drew the seventh seed while EMU took eighth and a date at Lynchburg on Saturday. Note the adjusted game time set for 2:00pm.
The matchup pits Lynchburg's defense, the best in the ODAC with six goals allowed in 17 games, against an EMU's high-powered offense, tied for first with 39 goals in 16 games.
The Hornets, ranked No. 14 in the nation, won the ODAC Tournament in 2016 and before going through this year's conference schedule undefeated at 8-0-1.
Lynchburg (14-1-2 overall) beat EMU 4-0 when they met Sept. 30 in Lynchburg, a game which All-ODAC defender Emmanuel Boamah (Alexandria, Va./West Potomac) missed.
The Royals made a quick start against Shenandoah (2-15-1/0-8-1 ODAC), earning a corner in the opening minute. Just 3:25 into play, Dave Drafton (Alexandria, Va./Howard Gardner) put the men on the board with his third goal of the season, getting an assist from David Shafer (Maitland, Fla./Bishop Moore Catholic).
Shenandoah stepped up the pressure, but keeper Matthew Overacker (Mount Crawford, Va./Turner Ashby) was good for four saves in the span of 6:38. Eastern Mennonite then fired back, with Caleb Oakes (Waynesboro, Va./Stuarts Draft) scoring in the 22nd minute with an assist from Juan Luna (Mount Jackson, Va./Stonewall Jackson). Oakes, who had been playing well off the bench recently, had started the game, only the second start for the sophomore.
Shafer nearly scored six minutes later, but an SU defender cleared his ball. The men missed another chance at their third goal when Jesus Trejo (Winchester, Va./John Handley) put one off the post in the 39th minute.
The Hornets finally got on the board in the second half, with Brian Maye cutting EMU's lead in half in the 58th minute. Erik Peachey (Lititz, Pa./Lancaster Mennonite) missed on a score four minutes later, with another defensive save keeping out the goal. The home team kept pushing for an equalizer until Shafer put the game away with 2:09 to play, putting in a rebounded shot from Daniel Obour (Alexandria, Va./Mount Vernon).
Both teams had plenty of scoring chances, with EMU getting a slight 18-15 edge in shots. SU had the margin at 10-9 in on-goal attempts. Overacker made six saves in the first half to get the win. Cody Martin (Martinsville, Va./Carlisle) earned three saves in the second half.
Eastern Mennonite improves to 10-6 overall and 4-5 in the ODAC with their win over Shenandoah. It is their first 10-win season since 2011. The men are also looking for their first victory in the ODAC Tournament since 2011.