JBU men’s soccer responds late to upset No. 1 Oklahoma Wesleyan

Photo courtesy JBU Sports Info.

JBU Sports
Nicholas Robinson, Director of Sports Information

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. — Junior Kelvin Omondi unleashed a shot inside the box with under four minutes to go to score the game-winner and the John Brown University men’s soccer team solidified its second upset win in three matches with a 2-1 stunning come-from-behind win over No. 1 Oklahoma Wesleyan on Tuesday evening at the OKWU Soccer Pitch.

With Omondi’s fifth of the season, the Golden Eagles (3-3-0) have won three straight and set a new program record by knocking off the nation’s top-ranked opponent, a feat never before accomplished in the program’s 37-year history.

JBU is now 3-0-1 in its last four outings with the Eagles (5-1-1) with John Brown winning in its last two trips to Bartlesville, despite the hosts owning a 22-13 shooting advantage.

“I love this game and I love this team and I want to battle with this team,” said head coach Brenton Benware after the emotional victory over his alma mater. “We’re really proud having just beat the number one team in the country. We started the game a little shaky, but Adam [Holt] made some big saves for us tonight and kept us in the game.

“Ryan had a great finish for us and Kelvin, my goodness, what an incredible finish. Part of our goal for the match was getting him in behind the back line – he is very tough to defend if we can accomplish that.”

The goals came late in the contest as OKWU broke the scoreless tie in the 72nd minute when Aleksandar Simovic scampered across the 18 yard box and let go a shot to the far left post as he drifted to the right, netting his third goal of the season.

Despite the John Brown early-season scoring woes, the Golden Eagles took advantage of Wesleyan’s press after taking the lead. With more space in the midfield and attacking areas, junior Conner Haney drew a foul just outside the box in the middle 11 minutes later of back-and-forth action, prompting JBU’s specialist to take the free kick.

Williams let go a shot that maneuvered around the wall to the left side pocket past OKWU keeper Dusan Djordjev to create the match’s second tie. It was Williams’ third tally of the season.

Just four minutes later in the 87th minute, Williams played a ball from the back midfield all the way up the left wing to Omondi. After taking the ball deep into the attacking area, Omondi beat his defender one-on-one and cut into the box, unleashing an eight-yard rip, stunning the home crowd and sending the Golden Eagle bench into a frenzy.

A late push by Wesleyan was to no avail as senior Adam Holt capped off the match with nine saves on 10 chances, marking his collegiate career with an undefeated record over OKWU, and in each four times, the Eagles were ranked in the top 10 of the NAIA National Coaches’ Poll.

Holt made the saves he needed to, but also pulled out a pair of saves that kept the match scoreless twice. In the ninth minute, Simovic had a chance to put Wesleyan on the board first, but his shot, which initially sailed over Holt who came out to challenge, dropped and headed towards the open goal. Senior Steve Teshima momentarily cleared the ball off the goal line, but it was Holt who completed a near bicycle kick to stop the ball’s momentum, clearing the ball away from the goalmouth and preserving the scoreless tie.

In the 84th minute, Holt preserved a 1-1 score with a diving save to his right, again denying Simovic his second of the match, without allowing a rebound opportunity.

Holt’s nine saves sets a new season high, as his record improved to 3-3-0 on the season. Djordjev made five saves and fell to 5-1-1.

The Golden Eagles have one day to rest before welcoming Texas A&M – Texarkana to Alumni Field on Thursday at 7 p.m. It is the first meeting between the two teams in program history.

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