After falling 4-3 in penalty kicks to Lewis University in 2013, the University of Indianapolis men’s soccer team earned its second NCAA Tournament berth, this time competing against Saginaw Valley State University. The two teams traveled to Northwood University in Midland, Mich., on Thursday, Nov. 12 to compete against each other to determine who would move forward in the tournament.
The Greyhounds fell 2-0 in 90 minutes of play to the Cardinals, but making it to the tournament with 14 new players on the team sets a standard for the future, said Head Men’s Soccer Coach John Higgins.
“I think it’s important that we get in [to the tournament],” he said. “This year with having 14 new guys I think it’s really important that we set a standard that this is the expectation for the men’s soccer program. Obviously, it’s really difficulty to get in and I don’t think we expect to get in every single year. But I think for our young guys to get this experience, it’s then motivation for the fall and years to come, to try and get back there. The excitement that all the guys have right now, you want that to become contagious and you want the guys to strive for that every single year.”
The opening half was largely dominated by the Cardinals in the shots department. SVSU had 12 shots to UIndy’s one at the end of the first 45 minutes of play. UIndy came back with 11 shots after the break to Saginaw’s four, but the Hounds still only managed to finish the game with two shots on goal.
Saginaw scored at the 25:37 mark, and at 53:45. Despite the two goals allowed by the Greyhounds, redshirt junior goalkeeper Chris Jones turned away the Cardinals first shot on goal in the 13th minute, and later stopped back-to-back quality chances from SVSU in the 20th minute, but a Cardinal shot found the back of the net five minutes later off of a rebound.
Sophomore midfielder Josh Ling led the Greyhounds with three shots throughout the game. Senior forward Zak Mitiche and junior forward Jacob Meyer had two shots apiece. UIndy’s two shots on goal came from Ling and Mitiche.
For seniors Mitiche, Shamsaie, Leo Cunningham, Patrick McGuiness, Brendon Widau and JT Hiquet this was their last time they would suit up as a Greyhound, and for some it was also their second trip to the NCAA Tournament. Prior to traveling north, Shamsai reflected on the teams past seasons.
“It’s crazy to look back, how difficult it really is to get into the tournament. Last time we were there was my sophomore year, and last year we went and won the conference [Great Lakes Valley Conference] tournament, [and] we didn’t even get in [to the NCAA Tournament]. We really have to cherish our moment here.”
Before heading to Northwood to compete, Higgins reflected on what making it to the tournament meant for the team.
“It’s massive for the program. You want to put it [the men’s soccer program] on the national stage, you want everybody talking about UIndy,” Higgins said. “Looking at the long term, for all the alums and all the guys that have put the work in before hand and have not gotten there [the tournament] to now see the program there, I think there is an enormous sense of pride that comes with that.”