Mar. 28, 2020
Senior Marco Ruvalcaba scored twice and assisted on sophomore Carlos Ballesteros' match-winner four minutes into the second overtime as Biola University overcame a two-goal deficit to beat Concordia University 3-2, earning its first conference title since 2002 and its second NAIA Tournament berth in three seasons.
“The whole team worked hard. Everyone left it out on the field; Even though we were down 2-0, we all knew that we could beat this team and nobody could beat us if we were playing for each other and for God,” said Ruvalcaba.
The season continues for Biola, which improves to 13-5-2 on the season, as the Eagles earn the GSAC's automatic berth to the NAIA tournament which begins on Saturday, Nov. 19. Concordia will have to hope to earn an at-large berth which will be announced on Sunday.
The victory--Biola's first at Concordia since 2000--was the sixth-straight for the Eagles and earns Biola its second trip to the NAIA Tournament in the last three seasons and its third overall.
Biola faced many challenges this year after losing three starters near the beginning of the season to injuries and other players having to step up into different positions to balance the team and fill in holes. Ballesteros attributed the success to his team’s determination and perseverance despite the many setbacks throughout the season and in the final match.
“In the end, it was our will that won the game,” he said.
Concordia struck first with two goals in the opening period. The first goal came just over 17 minutes into the contest as Edgar Orozco slotted a quick shot after a through ball from Wiliam Prado. Just 12 minutes later Orozco tallied again, receiving a no-look heel pass from Christian Ramirez and finishing to the right side.
Biola was not deterred and made some big changes at halftime, switching to a different offensive system in the second half. The changes paid off with a pair of second-half goals.
Ruvalcaba came up big on both goals, the first was a header off a great cross from Scott Hayes in the 53rd minute to pull Biola within one. Biola would strike again 16 minutes later as Ruvalcaba took a high pass from Scott Bautista and kicked it into the net off a high bounce to tie the score.
While Biola limited the high-powered Concordia offense to just four shots after the initial two goals, goalkeeper Aaron Fenlason came up big to limit the damage. The first came on a tough shot near the end of the first half and the other came just before the game-tying goal in the second.
Biola dominated the first overtime period, cracking four shots including two on frame. However, the teams headed to the second overtime still tied at 2-2. Biola continued to dominate in that session and managed the game winner 4:33 in. Senior Bryan Dunckel took a throw-in and tossed it into the middle of the box where Ruvalcaba came away from it in the scramble and pased it to Ballesteros, who sent it into the back of the net for the winner.
Biola controlled the match after the initial two goals, outshooting Concordia 18-4 from the 30 minute mark on. Concordia's William Whiddon made eight saves in goal while Fenlason recorded three.
Biola takes home just its second GSAC Championship in program history, last earning the honor during the 2002 season. It's also the schools second conference crown over the last seven seasons.
Biola's NAIA first-round opponent and the location of the game will be announced on Sunday. The Eagles are making their second trip to the NAIA Tournament over the last three years and its third overall. In 2009, Biola advanced all the way to the NAIA Quarterfinals by virtue of two shootout victories in the first two rounds.
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