FREMONT, Neb. – Midland University’s men’s soccer team had to fight hard for its fifth straight win, but the Warriors did just that for a full 90 minutes to send the senior class out with a win in their final regular season game at Heedum Field.
The Warriors (12-3-2 overall, 8-1-1 GPAC) scored two goals in a row to get a 2-1 comeback win over the Northwestern College Red Raiders (8-8 overall, 5-4 GPAC) on Saturday afternoon.
“We are now at 10 consecutive games unbeaten,” said Midland head coach Raphael Martinez, “and that is all down to the high level of effort, focus, and dedication the guys consistently give.”
Northwestern got on the board first in the 29th minute as Jake Foscalina found the back of the net on the team’s second shot of the match.
“I thought we started a bit slow, and I think that is due to the amount of effort and energy that we put into the Hastings game,” Martinez said. “Northwestern is a talented and well-coached team and they took advantage of our lack of energy.”
Midland had multiple good chances in the first half and finally took advantage of one as freshman forward Mike Eijgendaal beat a defender down the left side of the field and was taken down in the box.
Eijgendaal left the game after the tackle because of a bloody and a banged up knee, so it was freshman midfielder Diego Konincks to take the ensuing penalty kick. Konincks connected for his third goal of the season and to tie the game at 1-1 going into the halftime break.
The first half set the tone for the rest of the contest as physical play and hard contact were both commonplace in this match. In the first half alone, Eijgendaal, freshman Yannick Pohland, and senior James Kilburn all had to be removed for leg injuries. For the game, 30 total fouls were dished out (16 Midland, 14 Northwestern).
After his injury cut his first half short, Eijgendaal wasted no time in getting back at the Red Raider defense as he sliced past the defense and poked a shot past Northwestern keeper James Warren. The pass from senior Gabriel Gaiotto led Eijgendaal perfectly and gave Midland a 2-1 lead in the 46th minute.
“We spoke at halftime about putting them under pressure early to start the second half, and we did that with Mike’s goal,’” Martinez said. “After we went ahead, it was all about seeing the game out and I thought we managed it very well for the most part.”
Midland stayed on the attack for much of the half but couldn’t add on to its lead. In the closing stages of the game, the Warriors packed it in defensively to hold onto the victory and move to 8-0-2 in their last 10 games.
The Warriors outshot the Red Raiders 9-6 while keeper Matthew Ricci made four saves, which ties the career-high that he set on Wednesday in a 2-1 win over No. 7 Hastings.
The win placed Midland at the top of the GPAC regular season standings for the next few days, but without a game on Wednesday like the rest of the conference, the Warriors will have to sit back, watch, and hope for the right outcomes.
“We will use this week to get healthy and rejuvenated to put together a solid performance against Dordt,” Martinez said.
Midland’s regular season finale will be next Saturday, November 2, on the road against Dordt University at 3:15 p.m. in Sioux Center, Iowa.