The Trinity University Men’s soccer team is once again ranked No. 1 in the nation according to the NSCAA coaches rankings. This marks the team’s 14th year in a row to reach the number one spot, and shows a significant improvement from their number five ranking at the beginning of the season.
The team has worked extremely hard to reach this point, climbing steadily in the rankings since the beginning of the season. The Tigers are currently undefeated, having won all eleven of their games, but refuse to be satisfied with their current level of success, and are looking to translate the ranking into actual wins by the end of the season.
“We are proud that our program is held in such high repute, but being No. 1 at the end of the season matters much more to us than an opinion poll does. We believe that we have a team that’s capable of winning a national championship, so our mission every week is to prove the rankings right and live up to our billing and our potential,” said Assistant Coach Edward Cartee.
“The primary goals this season are the same as always: a regular season SCAC Championship, a SCAC Tournament Championship and a National Championship. This year we know we can achieve this by rising to the occasion in critical moments, which comes naturally for the team as we are all competitors working towards a common goal,” said junior defender Brent Mandelkorn.
Last year, the team also reached the number one spot in early rankings, but fell short in quarterfinals, losing 1-0 against Amherst, who went on to become the 2015 National Champions. Coming back from that loss, the team knew they had work to do to make their comeback, and feel that this year they are stronger and more capable than before. “Our goal is to win every game that we play, one by one, and if we keep doing that then we will stay atop the rankings and finish the season the way we want it to go. We know it will take tremendous preparation, unity, effort and performance, and the players are giving everything they have to make our team successful,” said Cartee.
The players are happy with the improved offensive-defensive balance, citing it as a main reason for their improved play.
“I feel this year we have a real balance between attack and defense. Last year we were struggling to score goals at the start of the year, whereas this year it hasn’t been as much of a concern. Defensively we have only let in six goals in eleven games which is good,” said sophomore midfielder Laurence Wyke.
Despite having gone undefeated this season, the team has not stopped focusing on how they can do more. By consistently working not only on their in-game weak points but also overall health, the Tigers are hoping to continually improve and bring home their second national championship.
“There are probably four major themes which we are concentrating on right now. We are working on creating quality goal-scoring chances on a higher percentage of our offensive possessions through better movement off the ball and better decisions on the ball, improving our productivity off of our corner kicks, neutralizing our opponents’ counterattacks, and we are emphasizing taking care of the players’ bodies so that hopefully, in spite of the rigors of playing two games every weekend for two straight months during the regular season, come postseason we have a full squad healthy, fresh, and in condition to play at our best,” Cartee said.
The Tigers conference season continues this Sunday, Oct. 9, versus University of Dallas. Only time will tell whether or not the No. 1 ranking will be kept, and more importantly, whether they can win another championship.