Game of shadows: Men’s soccer battles for afternoon tie

The Eagles remained knotted with Fort Hayes State after a defensively dominated matchup.

Senior+defender+Alejandro+Pelayo+%2829%29+falls+backwards+as+his+header+flies+past+the+opposing+goalie+during+the+Eagles%27+game+agains+Fort+Hayes+%28Kan.%29+State+University+on+Sept.+15.+Photo+by+Austin+Green%2FTHE+CHIMES
Senior defender Alejandro Pelayo (29) falls backwards as his header flies past the opposing goalie during the Eagles' game agains Fort Hayes (Kan.) State University on Sept. 15. Photo by Austin Green/THE CHIMES

Senior defender Alejandro Pelayo (29) falls backwards as his header flies past the opposing goalie during the Eagles' game agains Fort Hayes (Kan.) State University on Sept. 15. Photo by Austin Green/THE CHIMES

Senior defender Alejandro Pelayo (29) falls backwards as his header flies past the opposing goalie during the Eagles' game agains Fort Hayes (Kan.) State University on Sept. 15. Photo by Austin Green/THE CHIMES

Austin Green, Managing Editor

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The shadows grew longer throughout the afternoon, but the scoreboard rarely changed as Biola men’s soccer tied at one goal apiece with Fort Hays (Kan.) State University at Al Barbour Field on Saturday. Despite falling short of a win, the Eagles (2-2-1) remain undefeated at home in 2018.

“Our guys love to play here,” said head coach Todd Elkins. “They love playing [for] the fans, just everything.”

EAGLES’ QUICK ANSWER KEEPS GAME TIED

Biola’s back line held firm throughout the game, and junior goalkeeper Luis Rodriguez added two saves and made several smart plays in the box in one of his best games yet as an Eagle.

“We had to keep our shape, stay composed, and gobble any little mistake,” Rodriguez said. “And that’s what we did. We did it great.”

FHSU drew first blood in the 77th minute off their second free kick, with a ball arching to the right corner of the goal out of the reach of Rodriguez.

Elkins immediately brought pressure on the other side of the field, and it resulted in the Eagles’ first corner kick of the match in the 78th minute.

That was all Biola needed.

The kick from senior midfielder Kousei Mattox bounced off senior defender Alejandro Pelayo’s cheek and into the bottom of the goal, tying the game. Pelayo reeled backwards and initially thought he missed before he heard his teammates and the home crowd celebrating.

“I was like, ‘Oh crap, let’s go,’” Pelayo said.

DEFENSE DOES ITS JOB

Pelayo was one of the key difference makers on the other side of the field as well. Two nights after giving up two goals to Northwest Nazarene University, the defensive unit of Rodriguez, Pelayo, senior defender Parker Setran and junior defenders Jake Munivez and Axel Van Cleve kept a talented FHSU team in check.

“We’re starting to play better with each other,” Pelayo said. “This is a completely new [starting] back line except for Parker, so I think the more games [we play], as we’re getting used to each other, we’re getting better and better.”

FHSU took 14 shots but only three on goal thanks to that back line. Junior forward Hunter Finnegan also had two clutch clear outs in overtime to keep the score tied at one.

“We did our job on the defensive end, so they had to get through all 11 of us,” Elkins said. “[The defense] stepped up to the challenge of very good attackers. They had speed on the wings, they had strength… their right winger was the fastest guy on the field and Parker was amazing against him.”

Elkins also praised freshman defender Henry Reeves for giving some quality minutes off the bench, as well as Van Cleve, who has become a consistent starter after rarely seeing playing time in his first two seasons.

“Axel, I thought, got better as the game went on, and our center backs [Munivez and Pelayo] were great too,” Elkins said. “That’s what we need from them.”

The Eagles’ home fans, which packed the Al Barbour bleachers for the third time in a week, did not hurt either.

“You just feel it, and it’s different, man,” Rodriguez said. “The atmosphere of the whole school in general, it’s something that’s not anywhere else.”

The Eagles end their homestand with the start of their PacWest schedule as they face conference opponent Point Loma Nazarene University on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

About the Writer
Austin Green, Managing Editor

Austin Green is a junior journalism major who was first among his friends to predict that LeBron James would sign with the Los Angeles Lakers. When not focused on school or work, he enjoys watching sports, going to the beach or coffee shops, and hanging out with the guys on his dorm floor.

[email protected]

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