The Eagles soccer team was defeated at home by rivals Clearwater Christian College on Thursday, 2-1. With first place in the region on the line, the energetic crowd provided a great home atmosphere for the Eagles, but two curling strikes from distance gave the visiting Cougars the come-from-behind win.
After a tense opening to the game, TFC’s sophomore forward Josh Gailer put the Eagles ahead midway through the first half. After a long ball from the midfield put Gailer behind the Cougars’ back line, Gailer was able to hustle through a crowd of defenders and slotted a shot past the oncoming Clearwater goalie. The goal further energized the home crowd, though the lead would be short lived. Clearwater answered ten minutes before the halftime whistle with a bending shot from 20 yards out that was just out of the reach of TFC’s goalkeeper Elijah Smith.
The second half was more of the same, with both squads getting great chances at goal; however, both keepers were up to the task. Clearwater scored the eventual game winner with 25 minutes left in the game when James Sikes hit a slicing shot into the top corner of the net. With Clearwater up 2-1, the Eagles did not back down from the country’s fifth ranked team. In the last 15 minutes of the game, the Eagles bombarded the Clearwater net, but were unfortunate not to pull even. In search of the equalizer, Josh Gailer hit a beautiful half volley that dipped over the keeper, but rattled the crossbar. Minutes later, senior Tyler Timberlake struck a well-designed free kick that required every inch of the keeper’s long arms. “I’m really proud of this team. We did a lot of things right tonight, and we’re a much better team than we were earlier in the season,” said head coach Rob Worsley. “Beating them tonight would have been nice, but the loss doesn’t affect our end goal of being region champs.”
In the match, Clearwater settled for several long-range shots that provided sure saves for Elijah Smith in net. Clearwater totaled 23 shots on the night, and Smith was credited with 13 saves. TFC had 10 total shots, and five that required saves from the Clearwater keeper.
The Eagles will have a rare week off in between games. The next game will be Thursday, October 11 at 4:00 as the Eagles welcome Columbia International University to Toccoa Falls for the first time in their program’s brief history. Following the game, Dr. Meyers will be inducted as TFC’s president. Homecoming is October 13, and the Eagles will host The Crown College at 3:00.