Siloam Springs, Ark. (October 7, 2006) - The John Brown Golden Eagles finally found some offensive rhythm during their homecoming match Saturday, defeating Southern Nazarene (Okla.) 3-2 in Sooner Athletic Conference action. The offensive output was John Brown’s greatest this season and helped give the Golden Eagles their first win streak of 2006.
Senior midfielder Amber Aparicio, back from a nearly three-week hiatus due to a quadriceps injury, scored unassisted in the 18th minute when her shot was tipped into the goal by Crimson Storm goalkeeper Rose Mary Ormeno. Southern Nazarene took advantage of a similar opportunity in the 32nd minute when Megan Ritter scored on a rebound from John Brown sophomore goalkeeper Megan Rouse. The Golden Eagles persevered, however, and took a 2-1 lead in the 45th minute on a goal by senior midfielder Allie Newburn. Senior forward Nikki Ganter picked up the assist.
Southern Nazarene equalized early in the second half when Brenna Ingersol dove to head a Keli Traves cross into the net. The specter of overtime loomed for more than 25 minutes after that until Ganter gave John Brown a permanent lead in the 77th minute with an unassisted strike from near the 18-yard line.
It was the first truly dominant offensive performance of the season for John Brown (3-7-1, 3-3-1 SAC), which is gaining momentum at the midway point of the conference schedule and sits tied for fourth with Northwestern Oklahoma State. Head coach Joe Thoma said of his team that started the season 0-5, “We now have a chance to control our destiny.” The Golden Eagles attempted 13 shots-on-goal to the Crimson Storm’s 4, though Southern Nazarene claimed an 8-3 edge on corner kicks. Ormeno made 10 saves, while Rouse made 2. John Brown’s defense made certain that Rouse did not have to face too many shots in relief of injured junior Natalie Wall. “Our back four did a good job of containing today,” Thoma commented. He went on to compliment Southern Nazarene (3-7-0, 1-6-0 SAC) on its play, recognizing the Crimson Storm’s recent struggles with injuries that have hampered its progress.
Thoma knows a thing or two about the effect injuries can have on a team. Aparicio, in her first game back from one injury, left late in the match with an unrelated knee injury. She will undergo an MRI next week. Wall, meanwhile, is also awaiting an MRI after a knee injury earlier this week.
The relentless spate of major and minor injuries throughout the season has forced the Golden Eagles to look for reinforcements. On Saturday, they received help from a former teammate, senior Melissa Noble of Plano, Texas. Three years ago, Noble suffered a devastating knee injury in the first minute of the first game of her freshman season at John Brown. She spent some time as the team’s chaplain over the next two years, but never again set foot on the field…until Saturday, that is, after Thoma and her teammates had recently invited her to return. Noble entered the match in the first half, still wearing a knee brace. Thoma remarked, “It was good to have her out there. She knows in her mind what she wants to do, but she just needs to find her touch. She needs to ease into it.”
John Brown hosts Oklahoma City Tuesday at 1:00.