Palm Beach Atlantic University’s men’s soccer team was given the honor of hosting the second round of the NCAA Tournament at the Rinker Athletic Complex on Nov. 12. It was a heartbreaking loss as the team went undefeated in conference play, hoping to fight their way to a National Championship.
The Sailfish, ranked fifth nationally, entered the game with excitement, as a lot of fans came to support them.
“You can just feel the anticipation, because we know how good our boys are,” sophomore Emily VanDuren said before the game. “We just can’t wait to watch them win.”
Unfortunately, that is not the way the game went, and PBA fell 2-1 to the Lynn University Fighting Knights.
Although their season ended with this second loss, their season was still an impressive one, and Coach Brian McMahon said he is proud of the way his team carried themselves throughout not just the final match, but the entire season.
“We play for something different here at PBA,” McMahon said. “That is to represent Christ with our actions and I think that shone through with our effort.”
They fought until the end, scoring their lone goal in the 88th minute. It was an action-filled game, and the clocked ticked down with the Sailfish fighting to get a shot on Lynn’s goalkeeper.
Even though the team played a strong game, senior Charlie Dennis says he thinks they could've been better.
“We didn’t play at the level we played at during the regular season and could’ve changed some tactics,” Dennis said. “We could’ve played more defensively, we left ourselves vulnerable at the back.”
While formation and tactics can be debated, there is no question the team played with heart and gave everything they had. Their season did not necessarily end the way they wanted it to, but throughout the year they earned many accolades that they should be proud of.
The team earned the Sunshine State Conference Regular Season Championship, and were nationally ranked second in the country at one point in the season. Many of the players attest much of their success on the field throughout the season to the amount of support they received from the Sailfish fans.
“I feel like the school support is getting better year on year,” sophomore goalkeeper Elliot Barker said. “If you look at the amount of people who knew about the game you could tell that the school have really supported our team and the other athletic teams this year.”
Although they are thankful for the support from the fans, the ‘Fish said the biggest reason for their record season is the camaraderie.
“The most important part of the season for me was at the beginning when we were able to develop relationships between the team,” Barker said. “We had a lot of time to form a strong team chemistry and that is what helped our success.”
“Team chemistry was the key to our success this season,” senior Jerry Saint-Vil said.
Although they didn't get the ultimate goal of a national championship, the ‘Fish earned respect throughout this season, beating many of the top teams not only in their conference, but in the country.