Despite a loss to University of Southern Indiana in the quarterfinals of the GLVC championships, the University of Indianapolis Men’s Soccer team is heading to the NCAA playoffs for the fourth time in program history.
The Hounds finished their regular season 12-5-1, fourth in the GLVC and ninth in the NCAA Super Region Three. The team will travel to Painesville, Ohio to play on Thursday at 10 a.m. against the Fort Hays State University Tigers. The Tigers finished their regular season 13-5-2 and lost in the championship tournament at the Great American Conference. Head Men’s Soccer Coach John Higgins said that the Tigers have a reputation as a good team and that is how the team knows about them.
“For the last 15 years, It’s the first time we’ve ever played them [Fort Hays State]. Certainly they’ve kind of been on our radar,” Higgins said. “They’ve played GLVC teams before. This season they played Maryville, last year they played McKendree, so we’ve seen them. I know that they’ve always been a top program…. I’ve been able to watch a couple of games and they’re everything I thought they would be: [a] talented group.”
If the Hounds win against the Tigers, it will be the first time they have made it out of the first round in the NCAA tournament. They then will go on to face the first-seed Lake Erie College.
According to Higgins, the Tigers run a similar formation on the field as other teams that they have played this season. He said the formation that the Tigers run has given the team trouble in the past, but they are going to continue to work on playing against the formation before the tournament.
The NCAA announced Monday night the placings for the NCAA playoff tournament. Higgins said that he is happy the seniors have a chance to play at least one more game.
“I’m really relieved for our seniors that we’ve given them one more chance,” Higgins said. “[It] felt like when we lost in the quarterfinal to Southern Indiana that this team had much more to give and [there was]almost a little bit of regret there that we lost that one. I would have hated for that game to be the last one for the seniors and I’m delighted that they get one more opportunity at it.”
Senior midfielder Javier Steinwascher along with teammate and senior midfielder Ben Rohdner, were selected as first team all GLVC players for the 2019 season. Higgins said that the players have bought into the program and the culture of the team. He said that he has not had any off-the-field issues this season. This has been one of the strengths of the team, he said.
Steinwascher said that the last time the team made the NCAA tournament, they did not perform how they wanted to. They are doing everything they can not to repeat that this year he said. The team is young, he said, and many players have not been to the NCAA tournament. So, the pressure may not be as high for them.
“It honestly comes down to preparation. We have a lot of young guys in the squad and I don’t think they realize the magnitude of an NCAA game, whereas in the past we had a much older group.” Steinwascher said. “So I think the lack of experience will kind of help us out, maybe because there isn’t that much pressure on the younger guys. They know they have more time, but us seniors who have been here before, we know it’s our last shot. I think we have the right balance of experience and inexperience.”