Men’s soccer suffer loss in national tournament

Staff Writer

A tremendous soccer season came to a close for the men’s soccer team on Nov. 20, after a tough 2-1 loss against Colorado Mesa in the Sweet 16 of the Division II NCAA tournament.

Playing in Seattle, the Heartland Conference champion Hilltoppers (16-3-2) struggled for possession early in the match as the Mavericks of Colorado Mesa (17-3-1) had a pair of shots blocked in the first three minutes.

St. Edward’s Universitywould recover, however, and control the action for the rest of the half. Defender Coleton Stymiest narrowly missed a goal in the 27th minute when he hit the crossbar and the Hilltoppers would find a breakthrough with time winding down, as midfielder Andy Fox’s 35-yard free kick found the right post and banked in.

But the 1-0 lead would be short-lived for the Hilltoppers, as Colorado Mesa tied the game after a scramble on an early corner kick in the 47th minute.

The Mavericks continued to pressure Hilltopper goalkeeper Kevin Leib in the second half, as the third shot of the half from Roy Abergil finally found the back of the net in the 74th minute, giving Colorado Mesa a 2-1 lead.

Despite registering 10 shots on goal in the last 15 minutes, the Hilltoppers were unable to find an equalizer.

“The game in Seattle is very painful to look back on, the whole team gave a great effort and I thought that we deserved a lot more out of the game.” Fox said. “Unfortunately, this sport can be cruel and we have to learn from this experience in the future.”

Nonetheless, it was a season to remember for the Hilltoppers, as it was the furthest they had ever advanced in a national tournament. The record finish also resulted in honors for a handful of players, as Leib, Fox, Stymiest, forward Daniel Riley, and defender Kyle Pujats were named to the Daktronics All-Region team.

Additionally, Leib also received First-Team Academic All-America honors for his accomplishments in the classroom, along with tallying 59 saves and holding a .808 save percentage throughout the season.

“Being a First-Team Academic All-American recipient is an accomplishment that has taken years of work,” Leib said. “Athletic success on the field and academic success in the classroom is a goal I strive to achieve.”

As a result of the team’s overall excellence in the classroom, the Hilltoppers earned a spot on the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Academic Award (NSCAA) 2013-2014 list for their team GPA of 3.11.

St. Edward’s is one of 188 universities to have both their men’s and women’s soccer teams earn a place on this list.

“We are proud of what we accomplished this past season and our seniors have brought the program to a new level of success over the past three years,” Head Coach Brian Young said.