Elyria Christian shows improvement after draw with Berean Academy

Mark Schnabel
The Kansan
Berean Academy junior midfielder Braeden Templin makes a run during play against Elyria Christian. Berean hosts northeast Kansas powerhouses Kansas City Christian at 4:30 p.m. Friday and Heritage Christian at noon Saturday.

ELBING — In the first two seasons that the Elyria Christian-Hutchinson Central Christian boys’ soccer team was revived, the team didn’t have much success against rival Berean Academy.

The Eagles made some progress Tuesday in its season opener, battling the Warriors to a scoreless tie after 100 minutes of play.

Senior goalkeeper Ben Unruh paces Elyria Christian with 13 saves for the shutout. Berean netminder Zach Briscoe had three saves for the clean sheet.

Elyria Christian senior goalkeeper Ben Unruh snags a ball during play at Berean Academy. Unruh had 13 saves in a scoreless draw.
Berean Academy junior midfielder Alex Zapada traps a ball during play against Elyria Christian.

“The second half, we came back and put more effort in,” Ben Unruh said. “We let down a little, but picked it up at the end. You saw a lot of improvement from years before. It’s been a long time. Usually, we’ve been able to play a close game against them. This definitely the best game we’ve had so far. I can’t wait to see how we do later in the season. This team is better than I expected. We have players who know their position. They understand the game a lot more than we have in the past. We have a lot more teamwork. We have a few new guys on the team, but it’s a very good team.”

Berean Academy senior midfielder Tokiwa Armstrong (3) and Elyria Christian sophomore defender Johnny Unruh watch a ball during play in Elbing.
Berean Academy senior midfielder Jake Koslowski awaits a high ball during play Tuesday against Elyria Christian.

The Warriors’ best chance for the win came in the second half of overtime, hitting a pair of shots off the goalposts.

“We have some inexperience at the top,” Berean Academy coach Russ Busenitz said. “It’s not 100 percent inexperience, but it’s just not experience at the varsity level. The one thing we need to learn is composure and finishing. We haven’t spent enough time yet playing together. That’s showing. As we get some games under our belt, I’m hoping we get some time to improve. We need to get a feel for one another. We created chances today. We really struggled to find the net. I’m proud of our defense. They’ve done well in our first two matches.”

Elyria Christian junior defender Silas Redenbaugh secures a ball during play at Berean Academy.

“(Berean) is always a good ground, very fundamentally sound,” Elyria coach Tim Nelson said. “This is a good result for the first game of the year. We have a lot of things to work on. It was a good effort. (Berean) picked up its intensity (in the second half) a little bit. We were a little slow to match it. I was happy with how we played.”

Elyria Christian plays Thomas More Prep-Marian at 4:30 p.m. Thursday in Hays.

“I feel pretty positive about how we can do,” Nelson said. “We’re going to bring a certain level of intensity that’s lacking. I think we’re finally going in the right direction and will have some success.”

Berean Academy is 1-0-1, beating the Wichita Homeschool Warriors 2-0 in its season opener Friday.

Berean hosts northeastern Kansas powerhouses Kansas City Christian at 4:30 p.m. Friday and Heritage Christian at noon Saturday. 

“We’re going to play back-to-back Friday afternoon and Saturday afternoon against a couple of Christian schools from Kansas City,” Busenitz said. “We arranged a little classic with Classical School of Wichita. They will play these teams as well. I’m looking forward to that. It should be a good experience for us. We went up to Kansas City last year. … It will be a challenge to play two games like that. It should make us better.”

Elyria Chr.;0;0;(0-0);—;0

Berean Ac.;0;0;(0-0);—;0 Total shots — EC 1-2-(0-0)—3, BA 2-9-(1-3)—15. Shots on goal — EC 1-2-(0-0)—3, BA 2—9-(1-1)—13. Saves — EC: Ben Unruh (T) 2-9-(1-1)—13. BA: Zach Briscoe (T) 1-2-(0-0)—3. Corner kicks — EC 2, BA 9. Fouls — EC 8, BA 10. Offside — EC 0, BA 2. Cautions — EC: Josh Cunday 99:15.

Mark Schnabel can be reached at mschnabel@thekansan.com