Imagine if you will a soccer team at the collegiate level that is renowned for its excellence. Their squad is always nationally ranked and they recruit some of the best players in the country. This school is Trinity University located in San Antonio, and there has never been a team in the American Southwest Conference to beat them.
On September 1 UMHB traveled to San Antonio to take on the Trinity Tigers. In the past, the Cru has not been exceptionally successful. They have never won a conference championship or a national title. But that night, something was different.
When they got to the school, they went about everything just as they would at any other game. They changed in the locker room together, went through their pregame meeting and headed out to the field as a team to warm up.
Normally when faced with an opponent that shares the accolades of Trinity, nerves are an issue. Instead, there was
calmness about the team.
After the warm up, team members circled to say a prayer as they always do before they take to the field. But just before they bowed their heads, Coach Brad Bankhead looked around the circle with a smile and said, “Go out there and have fun for 90 minutes. For 90 minutes, just have fun.”
Junior midfielder Bo Baker immediately stepped up and gave thanks for allowing the young men to play the game they had all come to love. Then, it was game time.
From the start, both teams went toe to toe, matching each other’s skill and desire to win. But in the in the eighth minute, junior midfielder Daniel Gable would cross the ball into the Tigers’ box where it would find senior Daniel Green. Fighting off a defender, Green managed to get his head on it and chipped the ball over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
The Cru bench erupted with joy as they took a 1-0 lead. However, there was still plenty of time left in the half, and Trinity was not going to roll over and easily concede a win.
At halftime, the score remained 1-0. Although they felt good about the 45 minutes, Bankhead explained to them that they would have to match their performance in the second half to win the game.
When Trinity kicked off the second half, they had fire in their eyes and scoring on their mind. It was an onslaught of attacks, and UMHB defended with their lives.
But a ray of hope came in the 78th minute. Sophomore outside midfielder Kyle Dikey beat his defender on the sideline and crossed the ball to Baker, who was streaking down the opposite side of the field. While on the run, he brought the ball down to his foot and had a shot.
Baker said, “I saw that the keeper was out, so I just chipped it over to the back post.” The ball seemed to hang in the air for hours. The goalkeeper jumped his highest to get to it, but to no avail. It dropped in just under the crossbar and into the back of the net.
Again, the players rejoiced at the glorious goal that Baker put away. With a 2-0 lead, and only about 11 minutes remaining, a win seemed almost certain. But not only did Trinity not back down, they pushed the intensity to another level.
Desperate to score, the Tigers came at them with everything they had. It was wave after wave of furious offensive threats with no intentions of letting up.
Then, with just under four minutes left, the defense would break down and give up a goal. Even though UMHB was still ahead by one and only had a few minutes left to play, it was a devastating goal.
There is a saying in the world of soccer that 2-0 is the worst possible score to have. The reason is that the losing team only needs to score one to get back in the game and to change the momentum. This is exactly what happened.
Then the Tigers had hope. But the Cru was not done yet. They dug deep and found the energy to hold the opponents off for the last few minutes.
“One minute left to play” blasted over the speaker. Everyone in the crowd and on both the teams’ benches were holding their breath. They had lost games in the last minute the previous season, but not that day. 10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1 and the final buzzer rang.
A roaring “Yeeessss” from the bench as well as the field echoed throughout the stadium as the UMHB players ran onto the field in triumphant victory. The Cru had defeated Trinity University, ranked #5 in the country, 2-1 for the first time ever. It was the biggest soccer win in UMHB history and the first time a team in ASC had accomplished such a feat.
Vice-President of Athletics Ben Shipp was at the game and was pleased with the outcome.
“Our guys played hard, but more than that, they kept their composure. Trinity threw everything at them and the guys just played good defense and didn’t foul. That’s what it takes to win.”