MEN’s SOCCER: Seniors hope for different result this time

Joanie Baker

Today, Western’s soccer players will board a bus to begin their pilgrimage to the Mecca of Division I soccer – St. Louis.

But for four players, this is not their first time to the Gateway City. When they were freshmen, this year’s seniors went to the semifinals but could not pull off a win. Now they are determined to make sure history does not repeat itself as they face Southern Methodist with a new attitude.

“It all started in St. Louis,” said Neil Weber, father of senior Jeremy Weber. “And in St. Louis is where they’ll finish it. This group of guys has the talent, and they want to get the job done this time.”

But yesterday, coach David Holmes lacked complete confidence in his voice when he spoke of the upcoming challenge. Perhaps that was to keep from jinxing the team, or maybe it was because Western lost to the Mustangs earlier this season, 5-3. Optimistically, he said the team is healthy, but he’ll feel better after a couple more practices.

“Now that we’ve played everybody in the conference,” Homes said, “all the guys on the team realize how even the teams in this conference are.

“That was proven by the No. 18 team beating the No. 1 team (on the road). We have unbelievable parody this season. We’re at the point in the season where we aren’t going to change what we do. Things have been working well for us, and we’re going to go in doing what we do best.”

For Western (10-8-1) to win this game, it is vital that it is the stronger team coming into the game, which includes securing the first goal. In their last meeting, SMU (12-6-1) took a 2-0 lead going into halftime. After the half it was as if someone had lit a fire under the Hilltoppers.

Western scored three goals in the second half and even outshot them 18-13 for the match. Had Western come out with the edge, it would have won the emotional and physically draining game for sure.

Defensively, the team needs to keep a strong hold on midfielder Ramon Nunes, who threatened the team with four very close shots.

“I’m really excited because I haven’t seen any team in this conference that, truthfully, after a week’s rest and playing on a Friday night, that we can’t beat,” junior captain Scott DeGaris said. “I’m not saying we can’t be beat, but we certainly aren’t scared of anybody, and I really think we can win it.”

The team faces off with SMU at 5 p.m. on Friday at the St. Louis Anheuser Busch Soccer Complex.

Reach Joanie Baker at [email protected]