The men’s soccer team hosted the south region tournament on October 26-27. After defeating Trinity Baptist College 3-0 in the semi-finals, the Eagles defeated Clearwater Christian College, 1-0 to win the south region banner, and an automatic bid to the NCCAA national tournament. The Eagles are now 6-12-1 overall, and 6-2-1 against NCCAA Divison II opponents.
In the semi-final match, TFC hosted south new-comer Trinity Baptist College. Josh Gailer’s first half goal gave the Eagles a 1-0 halftime advantage. Insurance goals were added by Phil Stice and Justin Lewis to increase the Eagles’ victory to 3-0. Elijah Smith and Jon Wright combined for the shutout.
The win over TBC advanced Toccoa Falls to the finals to face Clearwater Christian College. The Eagles had played rival Clearwater Christian two previous times this season, but were on the losing ends of 2-1 and 1-0 games. Saturday night’s match would prove to be just as tight as the previous contests. Off the opening kickoff, Clearwater immediately challenged TFC’s defense, and won a free kick in a potentially dangerous spot close to the Eagles’ net. TFC’s defense sustained the initial surge, and kept the score tied at 0-0. TFC’s goalie Elijah Smith made several clutch saves in the early part of the match. Just as the frantic beginning began to calm, TFC won a corner kick in the 11th minute of the match. Andy Hoeweler’s corner kick found the foot of senior captain Tyler Timberlake, who slotted a shot through the crowd, and beat Clearwater’s keeper Garrett Hollenbach at the far post. Timberlake’s goal was his 9th goal of the year, and gave the home side a 1-0 lead. TFC would search for another goal before the half, but Hollenbach would deny the Eagles a second goal with two spectacular saves that keep the Cougars in the match. After the halftime break, TFC focused its energy on defensive shape and keeping defenders in front of CCC’s long shooting range. With numbers behind the ball, the Eagles defense was able to frustrate the Cougars, despite their majority of ball possession. Timberlake’s first half goal proved to be the lone goal of the match as the Eagles were victorious 1-0. South region Coach of the Year Rob Worsley said, “I’m really proud of this team. Tonight’s win was our goal the entire season, and these guys worked hard for it. I’m really happy for our two seniors, Tyler Timberlake and Phil Stice.”
Four Eagles were named to the south’s All-Region team. Keeper Elijah Smith, defender Noah Smith, midfielder Tyler Timberlake, and forward Phil Stice earned first team honors. Forward Josh Gailer and defender Justin Lewis were named to the south’s second team.
With the win, the Eagles earned an automatic bid to the NCCAA Division II national tournament. The national tournament will be played November 7-10 in Kissimmee, Florida. This is the first time since 2006 the Eagles have earned a spot at the national tournament.
The #7 Eagles will play #2 Northland International University Wednesday at 12:00 pm in the opening round of the tournament. Online streaming and tournament information can be found here: www.thenccaa.org/sports/2012/6/26/MSOC2_0626122640.aspx?path=msoc2