FALCONS LOVE EACH OTHER TO THE END
FALCONS LOVE EACH OTHER TO THE END, FALL IN OVERTIME OF INSTANT CLASSIC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
“Having loved his own, he loved them to the end” (John 13:1). These words were written of Jesus the night before his crucifixion and describe how he finished his mission to love people all the way to and through the cross. The Forcey Falcons have sought more than anything to love each other well this season, even memorizing the description of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 together. So, on Friday night they brought not only an undefeated record but also a strong commitment to their teammates into the championship game of the Maryland Independent Athletic Conference. And, even in a heartbreaking loss to an excellent team, they loved each other to the end and fulfilled their highest goals.
The stadium lights, beautiful turf, and large crowd on a cool October evening at Western Regional Park in Woodbine created an atmosphere worthy of a championship game. But a steady rain poured additional challenge onto the Falcons whose style favors skillful touches and clean possession. Nevertheless, the Falcons started strong and created some early chaos in their attacking third. In the 8th minute, Matthias Foster received a throw-in, turned toward the middle, and threaded a ball through to striker Harrison Duran near the top of the box. Duran pushed the ball to his right, took a touch forward between defenders, and confidently sent a ball along the wet turf into the right side of the goal. The Falcons and Eagles played fairly even the rest of the half. Both teams demonstrated they can be dangerous up top, but defenders on each side were up to the task of sweeping up potential messes. Michael Gonzalez was strong as usual as the last man in the back for the Falcons, and goalkeeper Ivan Bryan was consistent as he has been all season in net.
Greater Grace came out with greater urgency in the second half and seemed a bit hungrier to get the next goal. In the 40th minute of the 60-minute contest, an Eagle defender booted a ball high over the right side of Forcey’s back line. Two Falcons closed in on an Eagle striker who deftly dropped upon contact in the right side of the box. The referee awarded the controversial penalty kick and the Eagles converted to tie the match. In the remaining minutes, both teams had decent opportunities to deliver a second goal. Tireni Omotayo-Benson just missed over the bar on a courageous header attempt off a corner kick, and an Eagle on the other side of the pitch nearly knocked a corner cross in with his noggin at point blank range – but Bryan caught the ball in his chest and somehow hung on. In the end, an hour in the rain was not enough to determine an outcome and the athletes headed into two five-minute overtime periods looking for a golden goal.
Just three minutes into overtime, Greater Grace earned another corner kick. The Falcons braced to defend their posts, but a ball skidded to the top of the six and onto the foot of a preying Eagle who promptly fulfilled the dreams of Greater Grace and simultaneously broke the hearts of Forcey. As the ball crossed the line and elated Eagles took flight in celebration, Falcons everywhere fell to the ground in agony. Forcey’s only loss of the season had clipped the wings of one of the team’s goals, which was to bring home the banner. However, amazingly, in the aftermath of defeat, all over the field came evidence that Forcey had achieved its highest goal of the season, which was to love each other to the very end. Falcons hugged and held onto each other and seemed mature beyond their years as they said things like “I wanted to win this for you” and “I’m going to miss playing with you so much.” Incredibly to those who looked on, their weeping was not sourced in the pain of their individual losses but came from a place of deep concern and care for one another. Perhaps their tears and the depth of their grief – which would have never been so witnessed in a win – were an even more fitting and memorable tribute to their love than shouts of triumph would have been. Regardless, Falcon parents and fans proudly celebrated the efforts and accomplishments of the Forcey footballers. And Forcey head coach Michael Foster had never been more proud.
Forcey will be ever grateful for the services of 8th graders Mariano Carballo, Matthias Foster, Michael Gonzalez, Dominic Hsu, Tireni Omotayo-Benson, Emmeric Scott, and Ken Tsozock, along with Nathan DeMik who transferred last year and Liam Obuya who journeyed with the team for most of the past three seasons. Though some of them had never played soccer before 6th grade, they led the way in rebuilding Forcey’s soccer program and – more notably – loving their teammates to the very end. They now pass on their legacy to 7th graders Ivan Bryan, Harrison Duran, Jaydis Moreno, Lucas Rockhill, Dire Sokunbi, and Fraol Wakweya, and 6th graders Benji Bentil, Nahili Kirubel, and Edu Nwani. The underclassmen seem more than ready to carry on Forcey’s winning tradition and character. The Falcons do want to express appreciation to dedicated Assistant Coaches Carlos Gonzalez and John Ayoub, outstanding Athletic Director Michael Burgess, devoted Transportation Specialist Debbie Nelson, and all the Forcey parents, teachers, and fans for their support throughout this special season.
Pastor / Coach Foster
Forcey Bible Church
Forcey Christian School