The Royals ended a long streak Saturday night at Homecoming. Kevin Chico's (Harrisonburg, VA/Eastern Mennonite) goal in the 43rd minute provided the score as the soccer men beat Virginia Wesleyan for the first time this century, snapping a 15-game losing streak.
The first half was a back-and-forth battle until Chico drilled the bottom right of the net from the left side of the box. The goal with 2:43 left in the period was the senior's third of the season.
The Marlins came out strong in the second, making for an intense start. They fired a pair of shots in the opening three minutes before Mitchell Leap (Harrisonburg, VA/Eastern Mennonite) had a breakaway stopped in the 49th minute.
Leap had another good look four minutes later but missed high. The scoring chances slowed down before EMU had two shots off a corner kick in the 64th, one saved and the rebound high.
Virginia Wesleyan had their own chance off a rebound in the 69th minute, as a shot got past keeper Patrick Fox (Virginia Beach, VA/Kempsville) but trickled left of the goal. Another blast two minutes later missed the goal by inches. One minute later the Marlins got another shot past Fox, but defender Jared Ross (Sarasota, FL/Sarasota Christian) made a spectacular sliding save to preserve the lead.
Chico almost scored on a breakaway with 4:22 left, but VWC's keeper saved the ball off the crossbar.
The defense tightened up after Ross's save and only allowed four shots only the final 18 minutes. One came in the tense final seconds when the Royals were whistled for a foul at the top of the box. VWC fired on their free kick with three seconds left, but it was blocked and time expired.
The Royals were out-shot 22-11, although shots on goal were more even, 8-6 for VWC. Leap led EMU with five shots, including three on goal. Chico also had two strikes on goal.
The win is the first over Virginia Wesleyan since the Royals won in the 1998 ODAC Championship game. Included in the 15-game string was a loss in the 1999 ODAC finals and a decision on penalty kicks in the 2005 title game.
Eastern Mennonite moves to 8-6-1 with the win, and strengthens their hold on second place in the league at 6-1. The men have three games remaining, all against tough middle-of-the-pack ODAC teams. Their next is the final home game when Randolph-Macon visits on Wednesday, Oct. 19.