Men’s soccer picked to win Heartland Conference, again

Sports Editor

The men’s soccer team opened the season Friday with a thirst for revenge, but had to settle for a draw. Just by chance, they took on the very team that knocked them out of the NCAA National Tournament last November: Colorado Mesa University.

St. Edward’s University, ranked No. 12, had a one man advantage as a Colorado player was red carded in the 37th minute of the match. The Hilltoppers would outshoot the No. 4 ranked Mavericks 12-6, but none found the back of the net, as the game ended 0-0 after two overtime periods.

On Sunday, St. Edward’s faced its second opponent of the season, Fort Lewis College, and made a late goal to win 1-0. The Hilltoppers outshot Fort Lewis 8-6.

“Our full expectation is to win every game this year and that’s how we go into each game,” Head Coach Brian Young said. “One game at a time.”

The team was selected to finish at the top of the Heartland Conference Regular season this year in a preseason poll by the league’s coaches and sports information directors. St. Edward’s is trying to win its fourth consecutive conference title. St. Edward’s took 16 first place votes, and Newman University took the remaining two votes.

Starting the first two games of the year without a loss has not happened for the team since 2008, where they finished 13-4-2 overall. However, it’s important to note St. Edward’s began last season with a 1-2 record, before going 16 straight games unbeaten, and making it to the round of 16 in the national tournament.

The new roster has nine freshmen. Young looks for three qualities when he recruits: good students, hardworking athletes and soccer ability. Much of the team is back for the new season, according to Young. The team graduated four seniors, all of whom started for the team.

“I just think the team overall, the guys who will contribute a lot, are older than they were last year,” Young said. “I think they know our system very well, offensively and defensively, and they also know how to play against systems as well, a lot more than we did last year.”

The team’s next game is Thursday, against Texas A&M International University in Laredo. The next home game is against Huston-Tillotson University on Sept. 18. The first Heartland Conference game is scheduled for Oct. 1 against Oklahoma Christian University.