By: Allan Brads
The Cedarville University men’s soccer team outlasted the Northwood Timberwolves by a score of 2-1 on September 8.
The victory boosts the Yellow Jackets to an undefeated 3-0-1, while handing Northwood the first defeat of their inaugural season as a member of the GMAC, a not-so-warm welcome for the Timberwolves.
“We knew they were a great team who would hang around and put up a fight,” said Cedarville head coach Brett Faro. “But there was a lot of quality play from our team tonight and we are glad to come away with a win.”
The team effort is notable, as the Yellow Jackets trotted out 20 players in the first half alone. The Yellow Jackets had no “star player” for the night, but rather every play on the field simply did their job. The result was fantastic possession, controlling the pace of play, and eventually creating goals.
Having the grit to be scrappy in the box and win contested balls when it mattered most produced both of Cedarville’s goals, and ultimately the win.
14 minutes in, Forward Andy Volk scored a ball rattling around in the box, with the assisted attributed to Mauricio Ochoa Vasquez.
About 20 minutes later, as a full moon rose on a purple sky, Jake Johnson propelled a free kick into the box. After a spectacular save from Gjelaj and a brief game of human pinball, Jonathan Busaka tucked the ball neatly into the back of the net for the first time in his career. That goal would eventually be game-deciding.
“To score the difference-maker for the team obviously feels good,” Busaka said. “The most important thing is to get the win, but it feels even better when you can score one as well.”
In a physical game that produced six yellow cards, the drama climaxed with eight seconds remaining in the half, as referee Kevin Fikar awarded a Cedarville penalty kick. Gjelaj saved the kick, but Cedarville’s Timothy Lee fouled him in a putback attempt. No small amount of shoving and exchanging of words commenced. Fortunately, the halftime whistle sent both teams back to their benches before the situation got out of control.
Darkness set in during halftime, and an uneventful second half ensued, punctuated by a 71st-minute Northwood goal from star striker Seamus Quinn. The header off a corner kick is the first ball that veteran goalkeeper Jared Zacharias has allowed into the net all season.
Despite a second Cedarville missed penalty kick from Ochoa Vasquez, the one goal would not be enough for Northwood, as Cedarville’s stout defense kept Northwood at bay to hold on to a 2-1 win in the conference opener.
“Northwood is a physical team, they put up a great fight for 90 minutes, but in the end, it was a great night for our team,” Volk said.
Cedarville continues action on Saturday, September 10 at 7 PM as they host conference rival Walsh.
Alan Brads is a freshman journalism student and co-sports editor at Cedars. He enjoys playing the drums and speaking Spanish, and watches Buckeye football like his life depends on it.