Men’s soccer clinches share of conference title with win over SAGU

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SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. -- Sophomore Kelvin Omondi's scoring pace continued with his 14th of the year and the No. 18 John Brown University men's soccer team built up a three-goal lead before half and clinched a share of the program's second-ever regular season title with a 3-0 win over Southwestern A.G. (Texas) on Saturday (Oct. 29) afternoon at Alumni Field.

Although the win provided the Golden Eagles (12-2-2, 7-1-1 SAC) at least a share of the title, JBU had one final opportunity to win it outright. That final chance kicked off shortly after JBU's game ended in Oklahoma City in a match between Wayland Baptist (Texas) and the Stars. Unfortunately for John Brown, the Pioneers earned a 4-0 result over OCU, demanding the regular season title be shared between the Golden Eagles and Pioneers.

Because Wayland defeated JBU 4-3 in extra time in the regular season, WBU claims the top seed in next week's Sooner Athletic tournament. The Golden Eagles will occupy the second seed and open play with Texas Wesleyan on Saturday (Nov. 7). Kick-off time has yet to be determined.

The title was the second regular-season crown in program history. Back in 2003, JBU captured its first title, outright, with a 4-1 record.

Read more about the 2003 men's soccer regular season title here.

"Our guys put together a very good regular season this year," said head coach Scott Marksberry who, with the win, moves to 34-15-5 (.630) in three seasons at the helm of the program. "In the past, we have started our seasons slow, and have been in an uphill battle all season to get sharper, but it was very different to play the majority of the season as a top 25 team. We are typically able to take on the underdog role in big games, so we had to learn a new mentality this year. I think the guys did a good job of figuring that out.

"I am really proud of our guys. They are doing things the right way, and they are keeping their integrity in tact in the midst of what can often be a messy sport. I learn something new from them every week - and I want to keep learning. So I am looking forward to seeing if we can add days and weeks to our season by the way we compete in the SAC tournament.

The SAC's leading scorer struck for his 14th of the season in the 11th minute when Omondi ripped his fifth game-winner of the year off a pretty passing play that began at the back line. Senior Hazeley Pyle earned his first assist of the season when he back-line pass through the middle found sophomore Conner Haney. While Omondi overlapped, Haney sent a perfect pass through SAGU's back line to a streaking Omondi towards the goal. Omondi, in a one-on-one with keeper Matt Crow, sent a low, hard shot for a 1-0 lead. Haney also earned an assist on the play, his sixth of the season. 

JBU doubled its lead in the 30th minute of play off a perfect bounce in front of the goal. Sophomore Collin Smith let go a shot from outside the box that rang off the right post, bouncing right to sophomore Giovani Bejarano just yards from the goal. Bejarano tapped in his fifth of the season, doubling John Brown's lead with an insurance goal.

Just before the half came to a close, the hosts took advantage of a free kick from an extreme angle. From about 10 yards out from the goal and just a yard or two removed from the goal line on the right side, sophomore Santiago Vanegas ripped a shot off a SAGU defender and through the hands of Crow.

The second half, while just a formality, saw the hosts out-shoot SAGU (9-7-2, 1-7-1), 7-0, despite the Golden Eagles being unable to score on three shots on target. The majority of the starting lineup earned much needed rest as the reserves accumulated valuable playing time.

Junior Adam Holt needed just one save to earn his 10th shutout of the season. Holt's 10 clean sheets ranks him in a tie for second nationally among all keepers.


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