With a thrilling double-overtime victory, the Biola men’s soccer team captured the Golden State Athletic Conference tournament championship for only the second time in university history last November — coming from behind to win the championship match.
After facing a two-goal deficit, the Eagles upset Concordia University 3-2 in the championship matchup, earning a trip to the opening round of the NAIA national tournament.
“It was a great come-from-behind victory,” said head coach Bryan Kuderman. “For us to come back and play such a good game and to score three goals to win it, it really is remarkable.”
Even though the men lost 4-2 during the first round of the NAIA championship against Hannibal-LaGrange, they still had much to celebrate; the team has competed in the NAIA championship just three times in program history, and two of those trips were made in the last three years.
Winning the 2011 GSAC tournament championship was an unexpected blessing for the team because of a large amount of injuries earlier in the season. Kuderman said the team suffered more injuries this season than any other in his 10 years coaching at Biola. Three starters tore an ACL, which contributed to a three-game losing streak in the middle of the season. But they overcame, earning an overall record of 13-5-3.
“Winning shows character, but to win as much as we did with all the injuries we had this year, it’s a remarkable reflection of the kind of character our team has — and competitiveness for that matter,” he said.
Kuderman said the team played to its highest potential in the tournament championship, and the win was a confidence-booster.
“I could not believe we just overcame that big of a deficit to become the GSAC champions,” said senior defender Cody Shelton. “It was just a crazy, wonderful feeling altogether. My team was just ecstatic and overwhelmed with joy.”
Good leadership and strong work ethic helped contribute to this season’s success. Among those leaders was senior goalkeeper Aaron Fenlason, who finished his fourth and final season at Biola.
“Having a conference title was the best way to cap my senior teammates’ as well as my own career at Biola,” said Fenlason. “We have put in a lot of work over the course of four years, and to have this as a capstone to our time at Biola means a lot of every single one of us.”