St. Edward’s University men’s soccer team wins fourth consecutive Heartland Conference regular season title

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St. Edward’s University men’s soccer team wins fourth consecutive Heartland Conference regular season title

This is the fourth consecutive Heartland Conference St. Edward's men's soccer team has won.

This is the fourth consecutive Heartland Conference St. Edward's men's soccer team has won.

This is the fourth consecutive Heartland Conference St. Edward's men's soccer team has won.

This is the fourth consecutive Heartland Conference St. Edward's men's soccer team has won.

Amanda González

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Sophomore right wing midfielder José Pablo Covarrubias scored his eighth goal of the season in the 72nd minute of the game on Oct. 25, to ensure the critical win for the St. Edward’s University men’s soccer team.

The highly anticipated 2-0 win against Lubbock Christian University allowed St. Edward’s to clinch their fourth consecutive Heartland Conference (HC) regular season championship title, and extend their current record to 11-2-2 (6-0 HC). Despite the shutout victory, there were many challenges.

The Hilltoppers were scheduled to play this past Saturday, but heavy rains and a flooded field would postpone and relocate the game to Sunday at Hays High School in Buda, Texas.

“It’s not just the weather, the field had a lot to do with it. It was a smaller field. The first half we basically didn’t have the ball at all. We had the wind playing against us too,” sophomore center defender Owain Hoskins said about the game’s challenges this weekend.

Sophomore forward Samuel Jackson finally scored the first goal of the game at the 60th minute, while senior goalkeeper Kevin Leib had two saves that earned him his eighth shutout of the season. 

Assists were made by senior midfielder Karl de Zoeten and junior midfielder Josh Taylor.

Covarrubias, a business management major, is known as “Primo” on the field.

“Primo comes on almost as a sub, but he definitely could be a starter as well, based on his ability. He brings that starter mentality when he comes onto the field 15 maybe 20 minutes into the game, and I think he has the ability to change games,” said Brian Young, head men’s soccer coach.

“He comes off the bench a lot, which is always difficult for any athlete, but it’s more of a tactical move for us as a coaching staff. Once the game settles down, that’s when he plays his best soccer.”

Born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico, some of Covarrubias’ favorite soccer players growing up were Ronaldo Nazário, Ronaldinho Gaúcho and Lionel Messi.

When he was 12, Covarrubias lived in Florida by himself for a year to attend a soccer academy. At 16, he played in New Zealand for a year.

“I think [travel] helped me a lot. Going away from my family helped me mature and grow up and understand myself,” Covarrubias said. 

After his international play, he stayed in Texas, where he was the offensive MVP at The Woodlands High School.

St. Edward’s recruited Covarrubias soon after high school when he attended a summer camp hosted by the university.

“For us, we actually got to pick up a player late in the recruiting process that has obviously contributed a lot last year and really significantly this year,” Young said.

Coming from a big soccer family, his father really enjoys the sport and his younger sister plays high school soccer. Covarrubias’ maternal grandfather played professionally in Mexico for Pumas. 

Last week, a tropical storm quickly developed into the strongest hurricane ever recorded, according to the Louisiana Hurricane Center. The Category 5 hurricane weakened as quickly as it grew, sparing Mexico from an apocalyptic fate. 

“[The hurricane] didn’t do any real damage. There were no deaths or injuries at all. Everything’s fine and all my family is safe,” Covarrubias said.

Only a handful of St. Edward’s players speak Spanish — Covarrubias is one of them.

“In Texas, the teams we play try to use [their Spanish proficiency] to their advantage against us,” Covarrubias said.

“It’s easier to listen to [the opponents speaking Spanish] and relay it to other people like ‘he’s trying to tell his teammates to drop’ or something,” sophomore center midfielder Julián Sánchez said. 

“We hadn’t been playing great the last few games, and then today we didn’t play great in the first half, but did good on the second half,” Covarrubias said. “I think [Sunday’s] game is going to be a turnaround for our season. We have a big goal, and then we have small goals heading to that goal. Today we won the Heartland Conference regular season. That was one of our goals.”

The largest goal is advancing further than last season’s NCAA Sweet 16 appearance.

“Last year, our two top highest goal scorers left, they were seniors, so this year it’s a big thing for me to step up and help the team out.” Covarrubias said, noting that his goals include staying fit, getting as many minutes as possible, and helping the team with as many goals and assists.

After college, Covarrubias hopes to continue playing soccer or work in a field related to soccer.

The Hilltoppers are currently leading the conference, as their last two regular season games are at home against rivals Texas A&M International University and St. Mary’s University. 

With more rain forecasted this weekend, Covarrubias hopes the field isn’t as badly affected.

“It’s a home game against St. Mary’s and the last home game of the season. It’s Saturday and I think a lot of people would like to come watch — if it’s not raining,” Covarrubias said.

St. Edward’s will then host the Heartland Conference Championship Tournament on Nov. 5 and 7. 

If the Hilltoppers become the HC Tournament Champions, they will likely get a good bid for the playoffs.