MEN’s SOCCER: Tops advance to MVC semis

Joanie Baker

A long time ago, in a period known as preseason, there was a men’s soccer team predicted to tie for ninth place in the Missouri Valley Conference. Today that underdog is the No. 3 seed, the highest seed remaining in the conference after Western shutout Evansville 2-0 for the second time this week.

“To watch this team grow over the whole season, it was basically like we’ve played three seasons,” junior Scott DeGaris said. “In the first part of the season, we had troubles. We lost games we shouldn’t have. Second part of the season was conference, and we proved to a lot of people that we were a good team.

“The third part of the season just started, and it’s do or die. We’re doing.”

After playing the Purple Aces last Sunday, Western came back at them on Saturday with a much stronger defense. But perhaps that was because Evansville’s forward Dan Broxup, who took six shots at Western on Sunday, never saw the field Saturday. Evansville unexpectedly started two second-string players who gave Western some trouble with their speed, but neither took any shots.

Despite Evansville’s new game plan, Western allowed the Aces only three shots, giving senior goalkeeper Daryl Sattler his sixth shutout this year. Regardless of the shutout, coach David Holmes still can’t rest easy.

“I ought to be elated, but quite frankly it wasn’t our best performance this year,” Holmes said. “It’s a sign of a good team not to play your best and still win.”

Throughout the match, seven yellow cards were issued, and one Evansville fan was ejected from the field. Junior midfielder Trey Alexander also became tangled with senior goalie Troy Jackson, receiving cleat cuts to his face.

On the offensive end, forward Steven Medlock put on his best performance of the year, taking several close shots and assisting both goals by midfielder Richard Mupfudze.

“Steven Medlock gets a big star on his forehead for that pass that Richie scored a header on,” Holmes said.

To senior defender Ron Plute, the win made his last home game a memorable occasion.

“This game means more to me tonight than I think any at my career at Western,” Plute said. “Because it’s always good to go out with a W, and it’ll be in my heart and mind until I die.”

The win advances the underdogs to the semifinals in St. Louis next Friday against Southern Methodist at 5 p.m.

Reach Joanie Baker at [email protected]