Dec. 11, 2019
In a riveting game on Nov. 15, Biola men's soccer defeated No. 14 Vanguard 1-0 to clinch the 2015 Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament Championship and secure its berth into the NAIA National Championship Tournament.
The Eagles got the golden goal with just two minutes and 50 seconds remaining on the game clock as the weight of an entire season was placed on their shoulders.
It was a defensive battle from start to finish and it was the Eagles' young, but smart back line that sparkled on the most magnificent night this program has seen since it last won the conference tournament championship on Nov. 12, 2011 with a 3-2 double-overtime victory over No. 11 Concordia.
That was 2011, which is one year before this season's tremendous senior class stepped foot onto Al Barbour Field for the very first time. Completing this portion of the season with a championship is not a taste that's come across the palate of this dedicated, dominant and diligent group of Joey O'Keefe, Stephen Tanquary, JT Addington, John Hanscom, Cristhian Aparicio and Marshall Deogracia.
"You don't get an opportunity to play every year for the conference championship, and I feel like with this group we really, really wanted to be here," said head coach Todd Elkins.
O'Keefe was one of the players involved in the game-winning goal that brought the hardware to La Mirada as he found a sliding Leo Contreras who sneaked the ball past Vanguard's all-conference keeper to put Biola ahead. It was Contreras' tenth goal of the season and O'Keefe's seventh assist as the pair continued to play the exceptional roles they've filled all season long.
"Towards the last few minutes I was just hoping I could get a goal in there," said Contreras. "I was praying at the same time. I said 'God, I know you are going to do something right now and I am just going to wait and see what you do.' That was just awesome. We worked hard throughout the game. I love this team and it is all for God's glory."
After Contreras' kick passed the goal line the pressure was back on the Eagles' stout defense and star keeper, Addington. The Lions had one last opportunity on a long throw in with just 12 seconds left on the clock. Vanguard had 10 men in the box and yet Addington was able to punch the ball out and it went wide as the clock ticked to zero and made this dream become a reality for the Eagles.
"It's been a dream for four years," said O'Keefe. "We made it our goal in August to make it to the national tournament. That's all we wanted to do, and we did."
There was still two seconds left on the clock when the enormous crowd of students rushed the field and mobbed the players and coaches to start the celebration that represented four years of struggles, successes, pain and perseverance as this team knew it finally had its ticket to nationals punched without any question.
Following the win the members of the team were each presented championship shirts before captains O'Keefe and Tanquary accepted the championship trophy from conference commissioner Mike Daniels.
"This group deserves it," said Elkins. "I wanted it really bad for those guys. There is so much satisfaction when somebody else gets to accomplish something and you get to be a part of it."
So the night will go down in history as one which represents hard work being paid off in a major way as Biola proved itself once again to be the best team in the conference, and now with a regular season championship and tournament championship in tow this team of destiny will look forward to its chance to do even more unprecedented things at the NAIA National Tournament.
Seedings for the tournament will be announced this Monday morning at 10 a.m. PT.
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