Eastside FC Alum Emily Bunnell, who plays forward for Western Washington University, is proof that truly, it’s not over until it’s over.
Despite that the WWU Vikings were down by two in the 86th minute, the team pulled off an amazing 3-2 upset against rival Concordia College last Saturday in the second round of the NCAA II Championships. Bunnell shot the golden goal, clinching the win and giving the team a spot at the NCAA II West Regional Finals in Canyon, Texas on Friday.
“Whenever my team plays against Concordia, it is always one of the most intense games, and this one was also the most important out of them all because it was a win or go home scenario,” she explained.
During the first half of the game, WWU played well going 0-0 at halftime. Then, in the second half, Concordia came out fierce and netted two goals.
“[M]y team never says no, and we are a group that is filled with passion, grit, and belief that we could pull it off by fighting until the end. We ended up scoring two goals with less than 5 minutes left in the half, and 63 second apart,” she said.
Bunnell said that when they scored their first goal, the team knew they had to hustle, grab the ball from the net and bring it to halfway to start the play again, all while staying composed as much as possible in a hectic situation.
“I knew my team had what it would take in order defy the odds and get another goal back, especially because we always say a team is the most susceptible when they give up a goal, so we hopped on that opportunity and scored again 63 seconds later,” she exclaimed. “Me and my teammates almost felt invincible honestly after the second goal was scored. We knew OT was most likely going to happen and I was more than ready for it.”
Regulation ended tied up at 2-2. About eight minutes into overtime the play was back and forth, says Bunnell. The Vikings had the ball, challenging down the line. One of her teammates gave lift to the ball as Bunnell made a slashing run to the near post, flicking it into the far post.
“Being able to score the OT game winner was truly incredible, but it was a massive team effort to even get to OT in the first place,” says Bunnell. “ I also was hurt most of the season due to an MCL tear and only made my return during our last week of regular season play, so being able to make that type of impact in such a short amount of time has made my journey this season completely worth it.”
Bunnell, who played for Chance Fry's 96 Red, is a redshirt junior studying Communication with a double minor in Sociology and International Studies. Her father is the 2017 Washington State Soccer Coach of the Year and our very own Head Goalkeeping Coach and College Coordinator, Tom Bunnell.
Bunnell’s advice to Eastside players with dreams of playing collegiate soccer?
“The best advice I can give to a player is, make sure whatever school you choose to play at, that you truly love the school itself. Sometimes soccer does not always pan out the way you want it to, so make sure you can still say that you LOVE that school and where you're at.” Bunnell added, “Another piece of advice is, do the work of reaching out to coaches. Continue to contact them because the more your name pops up in their inbox, the more likely they will remember when the time comes that they can contact you. And my final piece of advice is, follow your summer fitness packet heading into your freshman season, and do even more than what you are told! Coaches are looking for what freshman is the most fit, because that says a lot about their work ethic from the get go - plus you'll be thanking yourself after the first week of two-a-days!
Great advice from someone who knows!! Good luck on Friday, Emily! Eastside FC is cheering for you and the Vikings!