Men’s soccer chase NCAA Tournament

Despite+being+tapped+to+win+the+conference+for+the+third+straight+season%2C+the+Hilltoppers+have+their+sights+set+on+bigger+goals+this+year%2C+such+as+reaching+the+national+tournament.
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Men’s soccer chase NCAA Tournament

Despite being tapped to win the conference for the third straight season, the Hilltoppers have their sights set on bigger goals this year, such as reaching the national tournament.

Despite being tapped to win the conference for the third straight season, the Hilltoppers have their sights set on bigger goals this year, such as reaching the national tournament.

Despite being tapped to win the conference for the third straight season, the Hilltoppers have their sights set on bigger goals this year, such as reaching the national tournament.

Despite being tapped to win the conference for the third straight season, the Hilltoppers have their sights set on bigger goals this year, such as reaching the national tournament.

Staff Writer

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The men’s soccer team has once again been picked to win the Heartland Conference this season, according to the head coaches and sports information directors of the Heartland Conference.

Despite being tapped to win the conference for the third straight season, the Hilltoppers have their sights set on bigger goals this year, such as reaching the national tournament.

With the Hilltoppers coming off a great season last year by winning the Heartland and being nationally ranked, one would think they would easily make the national tournament. But with no automatic bids for conference titles or rankings, the men were left out by the NCAA Division II selection committee.

However, Head Coach Brian Young plans on using a better strategy to get his team to the national tournament this season.

“Since Division II men’s soccer does not have an automatic qualifier, we have a very difficult schedule and with enough wins we have a chance of advancing to the NCAA tournament,” Young said.

“We have a deep roster and training has been at a high level so far this season. This will hopefully payoff with any injuries in the future or when we have several games in a row,” he said.

For Young and the Hilltoppers, it will be wins and losses and not rankings that will prove pivotal in their chase for the postseason.

“Rankings do not get you in the Division II tournament, so we cannot lose or tie as many games as we did last year,” Young said. “Since they take three teams from our region, our team has very little room for errors. The players know this and they are working hard in each game we have played this season.”

One of those players is Daniel Riley, the reigning back-to-back Heartland  Conference Player of the Year, who is working harder than ever to help the men avoid another NCAA Tournament snub.

“We worked so hard last season to gain that national ranking and keep it for most of the year,” Riley said. “To find out we did not make the tournament is a feeling I do not wish to have again.”

However, what is in the past stays in the past for the senior forward, as he hopes for a strong campaign in his final season.

Riley, who needs only 13 goals to become the second all-time in goals scored at St. Edward’s, also hopes to earn All-America honors, an accomplishment that has eluded him his entire career on the Hilltop.

“I would like to score 20 goals this season and get All-American recognition,” Riley said. “That is a long time goal I have always dreamed of having.”

These personal accolades do not, however, trump the team’s success.

“The main goal is reaching the playoffs,” Riley said. “That is the most important goal for the team and the program.”