Providence Upsets #1 Manhattan Christian College
Men’s Soccer squad turns heads with win over defending NCCAA Div. II champions
The Freemen Soccer squad travelled to Manhattan, Kansas for a rare NCCAA re-match of last year’s national finals. A year ago it was Manhattan walking off the field with the national banner after a dominant performance over Providence. This time it was the Freemen who walked off the field as the victors.
After a fifteen hour bus ride, the Freemen arrived to a thunderstorm in the forecast that threatened to cancel their much anticipated re-match against Manhattan. However, by the grace of God, the lightning storm came and went prior to the match’s start, clearing the way for Providence Soccer’s most significant win in its program’s history.
The two teams stepped onto the field under the floodlights as a light rain that would last the match’s entirety fell upon them. The intensity grew as the players took their positions on the field and the air became filled with the voices of both teams communicating last-minute orders and confidence to one another. The referee’s whistle cut into the air creating a quick silence as both teams waited in anticipation for their opponent’s first move, each side wondering what the other would bring to the field this time around. The air then filled with anticipation as Manhattan took the first touch off the kick-off sending both teams into action.
The two sides went back and forth, each side feeling out the other to find a weakness that they could exploit. However, as the match went on it became apparent that neither side could find a hole in the other’s formation. With both teams fighting hard, passing well, competing with an intensity not usually seen in regular season play, and with no signs of either side slowing down, it became apparent that fans were in for a tightly contested match. Play continued and Providence slowly started to take control of the game as they became the stronger team in the air and started winning more one-on-one battles. As the half ended scoreless with few scoring opportunities, it had become clear that the teams were locked in a defensive battle that could see the first team to find the score sheet walk away the victor.
The second half started with the same intensity as the first as both teams remained aware of the game’s implications for their seasons and respective rankings. The speed of the game started to show its effects on the play as both teams started to find spaces to start their attack at the other’s goal. Despite opportunities from both sides, it was the Freemen who were able to reach the scoreboard mid-way through the half as “Super” Mario Giesbrecht ripped a shot on goal that ricocheted off the keeper and a Manhattan defender before finding the back of the net.
Both teams continued their constant counter-attacks until Manhattan started to push forward in an attempt to even the score at one. However, Providence responded by switching to a more defensive formation which prevented MCC from finding the space needed to get an equalizing shot on net. The clock ticked down until the buzzer rang and the referee blew his whistle, prompting the Providence bench and players to charge their net in celebration. The Freemen had come into the game hoping to compete with the perennial powerhouse in MCC, and had ended up fighting to an unexpected victory.
Coach Ward left the game proud of his team’s play and ability to follow the pre-game strategies. He also left Manhattan with great appreciation for the school, soccer program, and Manhattan Head Coach Rick Wright for the courtesies and hospitalities Providence was shown while visiting.
“It’s a great feeling to win against a team like that. I thought we played beautiful soccer out there. We did everything all over the field the way that I wanted us to. And as a coach I couldn’t have asked for anything more from the players,” Coach Ward said. “I think the challenge going forward is going to be to match the intensity of this game. We have got to push ourselves every game now to match that intensity and play at that level. We have to be determined to play our best every single game.
“It has been a wonderful trip. Manhattan was very generous and very hospitable, and it was a pleasure to go there. I am thankful for the opportunity to get to meet the players, coaches and staff on their home turf and receive that hospitality.
“I think it has been a great day for Providence Soccer.”
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