The Eastern Oklahoma State men's soccer team took the field in Miami, OK on Saturday night for the Region II semi-final riding a three-match unbeaten streak. The Mountaineers powered their way through the last three games of the conference schedule knowing they could not drop points if they wanted their season to continue. Included in their late season run was a double overtime, last-second golden goal win versus NEO, and a double overtime, two-goal comeback at NOC-Tonkawa to keep the season alive.
The team took the hard earned confidence of the previous week into their rematch with NOC in the final game of the night in Miami. The Mountaineers jumped out in front three minutes into the game off a great effort from sophomore Chris Thorpe who pushed the ball past a NOC defender and found Jose Maria Ruarte on the back post. Ruarte poked the ball into the net giving the Mountaineers a 1-0 lead. The game went back and forth for the next 20 minutes until finally Tonkawa tied the game off a give away at the back from Eastern. Then with less than three minutes remaining in the half, Eastern switched off momentarily and didn't clear a ball on a free-kick giving NOC a 2-1 lead at the half. Eastern carried the play in the second half and had a number of chances denied by the goalpost and the outstanding play of the NOC goalkeeper. Finally, with Eastern chasing the game NOC caught Eastern on a counter attack leading to a breakaway goal to put NOC up 3-1. The Mountaineer's magic ran out and the scoreline stood.
- Jose Maria Ruarte's goal gave him a goal or an assist in 3 of Eastern's final 4 games.
- Chris Thorpe continued his late season form with his assist, giving him points in each of Eastern's final 3 games.
- Eastern took 13 shots placing 7 shots on goal.
From The Top
"This surely is a disappointing way to finish the seaon. Early on it felt like it might be another special night for us, but it wasn't meant to be. We discussed before the game, and all last week really, that only one team gets to finish a tournament on their own terms. Everybody else goes home with disappointment. We had a nice run to finish the regular season and just to get here in the first place. We have to be thankful for each other and for the opportunity we gave ourselves but balance that with the disappointment that the same things that hurt us all year ultimately beat us in the end. I am extremely grateful for our sophomores who came in with me last year and provided us the inspiration to be here and great leadership all year. I am thankful too for our freshmen group, who are really my first full recruiting class, and what they have invested in each other and the trust they have had in our leadership. It's their team now and they will have to use this disappointment constructively and get better so we don't have this feeling next year. We have to improve in 3 key areas, break away opportunities for our opponents, give aways at the back, and concentration on restarts. All of those things are fixable, we also need to get faster and stronger as a team this off season, some of that will take care of itself in recruiting. We'll take some time off to heal now and then get to work on being prepared for next year, and we'll do a great job of getting our sophomores ready for the next stage of their careers. I know all of them are going to succeed at the next level and be a great addition to the next program they commit to," said Coach Jon Evan. "Tonkawa was better than us tonight and that's just the reality of it. Congrats to them and good luck in the final. It should be a great game. That being said, I believe we are closing the gap with them and that should be motivation for us to be back here and be better next year."
The Eastern men finished Region II play 2-5-1 and took 3rd place in the regular season standings after a 1-5 4th place finish a year ago. For their efforts, the men placed two players on the All Region II Team - freshmen GK Marc-Antoine Huzen and sophomore Midfielder and Captain Edgar Torres. The results of the all tournament team will be posted after the completion of the conference final. Eastern will resume exhibition play in April of 2019.