by Jon Forsythe features editor
Craig Zebell, sophomore intercultural ministries major and midfielder, steps up to the ball. All we have worked for, sweated for, sacrificed our bodies for, comes down to his next touch of the ball.
For the entire season, our team has striven to be here — on the championship field in Kissimmee, Fla. And now, with one strike of the ball, Zebell can lay claim to another national title.
In the previous ninety-three minutes of play, the Moody men’s soccer team battled Northland International University to a 1-1 draw in the NCCAA Division II National Championship Game.
The match has progressed into the first sudden-death overtime period, and with six minutes and thirty-nine seconds to play, Moody has won a penalty kick off a Northland handball in the box.
If the penalty kick goes in, the game ends and we can hang the national championship banner in the Solheim Center gym for the third year in a row.
Zebell takes his run-up and hits it with the inside of his right foot. The ball sails just above a diving keeper and into the back of the net. The bench rushes the field, and we all sprint toward the corner flag.
We dog pile on top of the goal scorer, and begin the celebration that will last for the rest of the evening and for the duration of the bus ride back to Chicago.
During the 20-hour journey back to the reality of school, I have a chance to reflect on the season. I think about how this team has compared to other teams I’ve been on in the past and how Moody is different from the teams we play against. I wonder why we’ve had so much success in the last few years.
Certainly, talent has something to do with it. Every championship team must have some measure of ability, and we are no exception.
However, we did not completely outclass many of the teams we played. Coaching surely played a significant role in our success, but even the best coaching couldn’t win a championship.
I would like to suggest that the central reason for the program’s success this year was the brotherly love within the team that manifested itself in self-sacrifice.
This is the type of love that makes senior youth ministry major and midfielder Ben Cole lift weights every day before practice.
It compels freshman youth ministry major and forward Cade Chuddy to finish sprints hard, even when he is in the lead.
It makes junior biblical studies major and midfielder Richard Supe come to Solheim every day of the off season to play with the international students.
This love motivates junior biblical studies major and defender Josh Persson to research everything about our opponents and sophomore pastoral studies major and defender Dan Van Camp to vigorously rehab an early-season injury.
It moves freshman historical theology major and defender Ben Wallace to make a fool of himself during warm-ups to lift the team’s spirits.
Each member of the team this season has sacrificed his own priorities and desires for the good of the entire team.
This culture of self-sacrifice has allowed for the on-field success of our team. Further, it has served as a microcosm of how the body of Christ should work.
By denying ourselves, we as the Church can accomplish infinitely more than putting another banner on the gym wall.