By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.—As the team is preparing for a banquet Friday night, Corban Men’s Soccer knows the task ahead come Saturday night under the lights of Willamette University’s Sparks Field.
For the first time in program history, the Warriors (17-2-1, 11-2 Cascade Collegiate Conference) are hosting a home playoffs game against Biola University of La Mirada, California in front of what Head Coach Aaron Lewis calls the best fans in the nation.
“It’s awesome,” he said about hosting the game. “The last two years we’ve had to travel to California and Iowa. It always very exciting, but to be able to be at home in from of what we think are the best fans in the country, it’s just a lot of excitement.”
Lewis admits that anyone that’s in the NAIA National Tournament is a good team and the Eagles are no acceptation to that.
Biola’s team features the GSAC Player of the Year, Newcomer of the Year and Coach of the Year, Lewis and his squad knows how talented they are on the pitch partially because of that reason.
“Their good in possession when they got the ball,” described Lewis about Biola. “Their also dangerous in the counterattack.
“Our strategy essentially will be to limit their counterattack opportunities by being good with the ball and see if we can move them around in our own possession.”
The Eagles (14-4-1, 8-1-1 GSAC) are averaging 2.5 goals a game, but have dropped at least four goals in a five different occasions.
Their defense has pitched eight shutouts and have only allowed a two-goal game twice in their 2015 campaign and Lewis knows that he cannot let his team give Biola an opportunity to settle into a groove from the word ‘go’.
“There’s a couple of guys we need to be aware of coming out of the midfield and a couple of guys who are dangerous on top,” he said. “I think if we are good with the ball and we can put them on the defensive, then we should be ok.”
As for playing at Spark’s Fields turfy surface compare to their natural grass field, Lewis knows that it’s playing into the game a little bit.
“Willamette’s field is very, very fast. So it will change the game some” said Lewis. “Possession read, passes in the field need to be a little bit softer and more précised as the ball will scoot more quickly.”
Jeremy McDonald is a professional sports journalist in the Salem/Portland area and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalist in Oregon with B.S. degrees from Southern Oregon University in Journalism (2011) and Health/PE (2013). Got a story idea? Email him at email@example.com or on Twitter at @J_McDonald81!
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