Soccer, volleyball ready to kick off 2014 season

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The 2014 fall sports season is quickly approaching. St. Edward’s University is a part of the NCAA Division II and plays in the Heartland Conference with 11 other schools. Here is a preview of the 2014 fall sport seasons. 

Women’s Soccer

The 2013 season for the St. Edward’s women’s soccer team was another successful one. The team finished the season with an 18-1-2 record, including a 16 match unbeaten streak where they outscored opponents 50-3. 

Their only loss of the season came in the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament, where they fell to Western Washington University. They finished the season ranked fifth in the nation in a poll released by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. Head coach Nick Cowell has high expectations for his team.

“Our goals do not need to be verbalized anymore because of our previous successes,” Cowell said. “Make the NCAA Tournament, win the conference championship, win every game and be ranked in the top 25.”

There were over a half-dozen players recruited in the off season, with players coming from all over the world. According to Cowell, there are ten key returning starting players. With the success of last year, anything less than a serious run at a national title would make for a disappointing 2014 season.

Men’s Soccer

Last season did not end the way the team hoped it would. While being crowned the Heartland Conference Champions for the second straight year, the team failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. In Division II soccer there are no automatic qualifying bids for teams to the national tournament for winning their respective conference championship. Eight players placed on the All-Heartland first and second teams and Head Coach Brian Young earned his fourth Coach of the Year Award.

The goals and expectations for the 2014 season are no different from the past.

“We want to win the regular season Heartland Conference Championship, the post season Heartland Conference Tournament, gain an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and as always continue to maintain our team’s high GPA,” Young said.

Last year the team lost three games while winning 12. Young believes winning one or two more games next year could make the difference.

Volleyball

The 2013 volleyball team finished the season with a 14-16 record and tied for second in the conference regular season standings. The Hilltoppers’ season was cut short when they were eliminated from playoff contention in the Heartland Conference Tournament semifinals.

However, one thing the team can take away from last season is experience. Only one senior graduated, meaning a more experienced unit will be out on the court this fall. Head coach Sean Donahue believes this will make a difference come next season.

“(We) plan to fight for a conference championship,” Donahue said. “We plan to get to the conference tournament and get to the NCAA Tournament.” 

The team also added Brenda Walker as an assistant coach. Walker brings experience in Division I volleyball to the team and has won numerous awards.

“She brings many years of great experience and has already changed things in the program,” Donahue said.

With a more mature team and an experienced coaching addition, the volleyball team looks to make a rebound.