After its strongest season in two decades, Biola's men's soccer team opened the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) tournament and will play in the second round of the tournament in Fresno against Hastings College (Nebraska) on Tuesday, December 1, 2009 at 4:30 p.m. The Eagles advanced to the second round of the tournament with a 4-3 win in a penalty kick shootout against the University of Texas-Brownsville on Saturday, Nov. 21. The game ended in a 2-2 tie.
Men’s Soccer Head Coach Bryan Kuderman, who has been coaching with Biola for eight seasons, said the success of this year’s team is not only an attribute to the hard work of this year’s team, but also a culmination of effort from the last eight seasons.
“This years team is the recipient of several years of labor,” said Kuderman. “It is always about the team, not the coach when winning games in soccer. We have a great deal of talent, as well as, proper attitude and chemistry. The boys really love each other and it shows.”
The Eagles, who finished the season with a 13-4-2 overall record and were ranked No. 12 in the final NAIA National Poll, earned the sixth and final at-large berth in the field spot. Biola is still looking for its first win in the tournament on Saturday, posting an 0-2-2 overall record in those two appearances.
Defense has been the cornerstone of the Biola soccer team this season. The Eagles have allowed just 15 goals in 19 matches this season and have recorded a school-record 11 shutouts. The team is expected to do well at the tournament.
Sophomore goalkeeper Aaron Fenlason, was integral in a pair of Biola wins during the Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament and was named NAIA defensive player of the week twice this season. Alongside, junior forward Kennedy Chongo, they pushed the Eagles higher this season with exceptional play. They were named the final GSAC Men's Soccer Defensive and Offensive Players of the Week, respectively, for the 2009 season. Although Fenlason and Chongo received outside recognition, the whole team has truly played a dynamic season.
“We have proven in every single game we played this year that we are good — really good in fact,” said Kuderman. “If we stay strong in the back…we will be exactly where we want to be. Hopefully, the result will follow.”
The Eagles need to focus on the “process” as Kuderman says — controlling the things that the team works on and must be committed to stay focused on those elements throughout the game. He believes the team is very talented and has the ability to beat anyone in the country, but without focus on details, the team has experienced loss even when “outplaying” opponents.
“Outcomes will be a result of our process, not our desires,” he said.
The team also has a large number of upper classmen on the team, 4 seniors and 6 juniors, helping strengthen the team as veteran players. Kuderman also states the fan base this year as a reason for the team’s success in addition to the exceptional players.
“The fans have been awesome and we have drawn the largest crowds for a soccer match consistently all season long at every home game,” he said. “The student support has really helped sustain us and been a real source of encouragement.”
Kuderman is excited for the tournament and for the team to return to the tournament after twenty years. He looks forward to the continual success of Biola men’s soccer.
“To be where we are now is epic,” said Kuderman. “We have so much less than many of our opponents from a sporting stand point, but God has blessed our hard work and I hope that he has a greater plan for this team (beyond winning) and the Biola teams who will follow.”
The Eagles moved ahead to the second round of the tournament after victory against the University of Texas-Brownsville on Saturday, Nov. 21.
Written by Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator. Jenna can be reached at (562) 777-4061 or through email at email@example.com. Jeff Hoffman, Biola Sports Information Director contributed to this report.