November 15, 2018

Men’s soccer finishes season with perfect road record

Some men’s soccer players see their winning streak as a coincidence, while others call it a product of their competitiveness. Regardless of the reason, on Monday night, the Gorloks produced the university’s first undefeated season in road games.

Despite losing four games on its home field, the Gorloks have been able to find consistent success on other teams’ fields, leading to what became an 8-0 record in road matchups and a 14-4-1 record overall.

The team won a high-scoring game 5-4 against Principia College on Monday night, locking them to an upcoming postseason matchup with Greenville University.

That win means the team has not lost a road game in over a year. Their 13-month streak began immediately after a Sep. 27 loss last year against Illinois Wesleyan University.

Senior and all-conference midfielder Tucker Hively ranks fourth on the team in points scored. He said the team turned its home losses into added urgency for road games.

“Unfortunately, we’ve struggled at home in a couple games, but we know that makes it even more important to win our away games,” Hively said. “But we strive to win every game and nothing less.”

The team has also been able to produce its most high-scoring performances while away from home. On Oct. 20 against Eureka College, the team tied its season-high for five goals during the shutout win.

Senior defenseman Eric Tate helped anchor the defense and said winning in other teams’ arenas is one of the great traits the team possesses this year.

“We go into every game expecting to be competitive and wanting the win,” Tate said. “We have just been exceptional on the road, and that is one of our greatest strengths as a team.”

The Gorloks will seek to continue that caliber of play in the postseason. The St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) Tournament for men’s soccer begins on Nov. 1.

Heading into the final day of the regular season, the Gorloks found themselves in a three-way battle for postseason positioning. The Gorloks finished with the same record as Greenville University (14-4-1) and a half game behind top-seeded Spalding University (14-3-1).

This means as a No. 3 seed, the Gorloks will have to travel on the road once again to play against the second-seeded Greenville Panthers.

Last season, the team finished with a similar record (12-4-4), but Hively said numerous injuries limited their opportunities in the SLIAC Championship game. In that game, the Gorloks did not lose, as the game ended in a 0-0 draw. Due to a 4-1 advantage on penalty kicks, Principia College advanced.

Remembering the situation from a season ago, Hively said those injuries drove the team to win more than ever.

“Every game from here on out is make or break, so that’s the mentality that the team comes in with,” Hively said. “Every player knows the importance of each game and every player knows the role they are expected to play at this point in the season.”

Hively said if the team worked hard each day and encouraged one another, he did not believe any team could beat them.

Each of the players, from Hively and Tate to freshman goalkeeper Matt Coffey, have viewed the pressures of each of their contests with nearly the exact same statement: entering each game with the mindset and expectation of winning.

Coffey said that the team did not approach road games differently, but rather, they just happened to win those games.

“Every game we play we have the mindset of coming out with a win,” Coffey said. “So I wouldn’t say the road games are approached more aggressively, it has just played out like that.”

The season will come down to at least one more game, where the team will have a chance at completing the second greatest season in the university’s history, only behind the 1999 season in which the team went 16-2-2. According to Hively, they are prepared for the looming challenge.

“Everything we’ve worked and prepared for comes down to the next 4 games,” Hively said. “You can bet we’ll be ready.”

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