After they swept the Great Lakes Valley Conference tournament, the University of Indianapolis mens soccer team fell short to the Maryville University Saints in the first round of the NCAA Division II tournament on Nov. 11.
The Saints scored early in the game, getting their first and only goal in the 29th minute. This lone goal was enough to defeat the Hounds, and send them home for the season.
In total, the Hounds took eight shots. Junior midfielder Callum Walsh, sophomore forward James Jenkins and sophomore forward Javier Steinwascher, each had a shot on goal, but were deflected, while junior goalkeeper Miles Palmer recorded four saves on the night.
Even with the loss, Higgins did see some positives out of the experience. He said there were some parts of the game that were a bit disappointing, but by the end the men really fought to try to get back in the game.
The first half wasnt what we expected, but we started the second half really well. It had to do a lot with the response of the guys, Higgins said. They came back out better prepared for the second half.
Injuries were also a factor going in the match, according to Higgins. Senior defense David Kurz was out with a concussion, senior back Kiuno Cann with a hip injury and freshman forward Adrian Lopez and sophomore Julian Zylfiu were both out with knee injuries.
Prior to the NCAA tournament, the Hounds won the GLVC tournament. In the final round the Hounds battled the University of Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles on Nov. 5.
The first half remained scoreless by efforts of the Palmer and the USI senior goalkeeper Adam Zehme. After the break, both teams took multiple shots on the goal before sophomore midfield Ben Rohder found the net in the 90th minute. The goal granted the Hounds the win 1-0, and sent them into the NCAA tournament playoffs.
The Hounds took 24 shot attempts at the goal over the course of the game. Roder contributed four, Steinwascher with five and Jenkins with four. The Screaming Eagles took 10 shots, and Palmer blocked all five shots on target.
In their first conference match-up, the Hounds defeated Bellarmine 2-1. Jenkins attempted five shots with two finding the net, granting the Hounds the win.
The Hounds defeated the Miners 1-0 with a goal off of the foot of Steinwascher in the 25th minute. Despite the Miners outshooting the Hounds 18-14, Palmer deflected each of their four shots on target.
As the season came to a close, Higgins said that the team achieved their goal of winning the GLVC tournament and advancing to NCAA play.
Looking forward to next season, Higgins said he has some big plans for the team. He has already set up some goals for the returning men, he reserve squad and any additions they may add to the 2018 roster.
Its exciting to build from this [season], Higgins said. Weve got a bunch of young guys who grew and got better. Were fired up for the long term. The goal for this group of guys is to win an NCAA tournament game.
According to Higgins, the Hounds have a lot to be proud of looking back on the season. They ended the season 13-6-1 and won the GLVC Championship,which is the second championship win in program history.
Although senior midfielder Josh Ling said that he was disappointed that they did not get the win in their first round of the NCAA tournament, he also said the team played well the second half. Ling also had some words of advice for the returning players.
Listen to the coaches, give it your all everyday because time flies quickly and enjoy it, Ling said. Thats what we play the game for.
In years past, the team has played with the motto United as One. According to Higgins, the graduating seniors have really impacted the program and the returning players by living out this motto.
The most important thing to remember going into next season is the culture that has been created, Higgins said. Above all the wins and records broken, the culture this team, especially the seniors have created, makes this UIndy mens soccer.