After a first round laden with upsets, the Golden Eagles found themselves in an unexpected position: Playing at home in the tournament.
Now they find themselves in the conference championship.
The Golden Eagles defeated MidAmerica Christian 3-2 on the road and Oklahoma City 2-0 at home to advance to the conference tournament.
JBU will play against eighth seed Oklahoma Baptist for the conference championship on Friday.
John Brown lost their only game against OBU this season 1-0 on Sept. 29.
“Last time we played well against them and did not get rewarded, so we have everything to play for,” said freshman midfielder Eli Simonsen. “Playing at home is nice of course, so hopefully we’ll get a nice crowd like we did Tuesday.”
The second round matchup against Oklahoma City was a rematch of their season finale, a game JBU won 1-0 with a late goal.
If John Brown wins the conference championship they will earn a berth in the national tournament.
“It’s an amazing opportunity for us to get this soccer program back on track,” said senior defenseman David Castagne. “OBU is a very talented team but we … like our chances of winning at home.”
The eighth seeded Stars had dealt the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, which was nationally ranked and undefeated, their first loss of the season in the first round.
Oklahoma City could not beat JBU, though.
Simonsen scored both of the Eagles’ goals. His goal in the 45th minute capped a first half in which they controlled the tempo.
“We came out flying and playing really well,” said freshman defenseman Logan Hellinghausen. “We controlled the ball and got some good chances right off the bat.”
Simonsen’s first goal came off a free kick with 11 seconds left in the half.
“His first [goal] was the goal of the season given the context and timing of it,” said Castagne. “We moved the ball well in the first half and created some opportunities.”
In the 49th minute Simonsen added a goal off a penalty kick.
In the first round the Eagles faced off against MidAmerica Christian on the road. John Brown defeated MACU 3-2. In a high scoring first half, sophomore forward Martin Gonzalez was the bulk of the Eagles scoring output.
“Martin scored two special goals,” said head coach John Miglarese. “Two of our best all season, frankly.”
In the 6th minute Gonzalez opened the scoring with a half-volley from 35 yards out that Miglarese described as “world-class.” In the 20th minute Gonzalez cut in and curved a shot around the keeper for his second after the Evangels had knotted the game at 1. Freshman Zari Prescod added a breakaway goal in the 25th minute that ended up being the deciding tally. The second half was scoreless after both teams missed chances late in the game.
“[In] the second half we were a little jittery and we didn’t possess like we should have,” said Miglarese. “We held on. They honestly deserved to at least get the game into overtime.”
MACU hit the post twice in the last 10 minutes of the game.
“JP (Garcia) made some big saves and the post was our friend twice,” said Miglarese.
JBU will play Oklahoma Baptist in the Conference championship on Friday at 2 p.m. at Alumni Field.