EUREKA — Michael Hansen (Peoria, Ill./Limestone) and the EC men's soccer team has good reason to feel confident when a referee awards a penalty kick for the Red Devils.
Hansen netted two goals off PKs —an equalizer in the 63rd minute and a golden goal in the 92nd —to seal a 2-1 season-opening overtime win over Emmaus on Saturday.
"I've done it before, and it doesn't get old," Hansen said. "It's such an exhilarating moment, when you get that goal, and it's the golden goal.
"There's a lot of drama."
The Red Devils' win – their seventh in eight tries over Emmaus – came after winning the possession battle and pummeling the Eagles' end of the turf for 92 minutes. EC outshot the visitors 25-4, putting 11 on frame to their Emmaus' four.
"It was a heart-racing game," EC coach Dwain Barker said of Saturday's triumph. "I was very impressed with how we were possessing the ball and moving it from the back and switching it, going negative instead of forcing everything. The training we put in actually did pay off."
However, the home team spent the majority of the match playing from behind. Emmaus' Mason McCarl slipped through the Red Devils' back line just over seven minutes into the match and put the Eagles on the board for the first time this season, knocking a right-footed shot low and inside the frame.
The Red Devils controlled the pitch for the rest of half, finishing with 57 percent of possession and outshooting the Eagles 14-2.
The problem was they didn't have anything to show for it.
"We just have to work on getting the ball in the attacking third and actually getting something from it," Barker said. "We had a lot of shots, but few of them were on frame."
Finally, in the 63rd minute, freshman reserve Sam Lin (Seattle, Wash./Chicago Hope Academy) attacked and drew a foul in the box, giving Hansen a chance to equalize the match. He did just that, placing his PK low and on the left side.
"For our first game, with such a young squad, I'm actually really proud and impressed with how we came out," Hansen said. "We had a little bit of a hiccup, but I think once we got the first goal, everything jump-started. It was after that we really started hammering them in the final fourth of the field."
Hansen finished with a team-high seven shots on goal for the Red Devils. Christian Marin (Whittier, Calif./California), Austin Marburger (Litchfield, Ill./Litchfield), David Haage (Sprinfield, Ill./Tri-City) and Michael Freer (Mount Pulaski/Mount Pulaski) each had one.
Marin, a senior, and sophomore Diego Cintora (Watseka, Ill./Watsekta) consistently controlled the midfield – where the Red Devils held 61 percent of their possession — and helped create chances on the attack.
Ashton Epps (Bloomington, Ill./Bloomington) made the most of his 32 minutes off the bench. The freshman played with pace and physicality on the outside.
Barker said sophomore Austin Margburger (Litchfield, Ill./Litchfield) was vastly improved working in front of the back line in the holding midfielder role, and Trey Behm (Bartonville, Ill./Limestone) and Tyler Goss (Groveland, Ill./Pekin) were anchors in the back.
On Monday, the Red Devils will look to improve to 2-0 at home when they take on St. Mary-of-the-Woods at 3 p.m.
The decisive goal on Saturday came after a hand ball was called following a fortuitous bounce in the box while the Red Devils were on the attack. After witnessing Hansen's first finish — and watching him perform well in a penalty-kick game at practice — it was obvious to Barker what was going to happen next.
"It gives us a better idea of who can deal with the pressure, who can deal with that situation," Barker said of what he saw at practice. "And Hansen has definitely matured in the last four years into being a true leader."