The University of Evansville men’s soccer team: a legitimate NCAA tournament contender or flash in the pan?
The Aces could tell a lot about themselves at 2 p.m. Sunday against Oral Roberts (2-7), which enters after a 5-0 win Friday over IPFW.
“This is like coach-speak, but it’s important because it’s our next game,” said coach Mike Jacobs, whose lineup is made up of mostly underclassmen. “I think too many times young players – peripheral things affect their decision making. To say this is anything more than our next match is just fooling ourselves.”
With another loss, however, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to fool the NCAA’s selection committee into granting the Aces an at-large bid.
Since starting 4-0, a streak that attracted UE votes in national polls, Jacobs’ team has dropped three matches in a row to Saint Louis, Butler and Kentucky.
“I think it’s getting to the point of the season where school’s piling up on the guys,” said senior goalkeeper Robert Randant. “They don’t really know how to deal with that and they have to recommit themselves to consciously trying hard in every practice.
“In preseason, it kind of just happened. Two-a-day practices – you’re going to get better.”
The three losses fell during an eight-day span.
Saint Louis is 5-2 with wins over nationally-ranked Creighton and Louisville. Butler’s win over UE marked the Bulldogs’ second victory of the season, but they’ve tied five other opponents (some ranked) to start the season. And Kentucky beat Evansville during its current four-match winning streak.
“We ran into a buzz saw,” Jacobs said. “I think those were three really good teams we played against. They were teams we were capable of playing with and beating, but there were harsh lessons learned from the standpoint of how fine the line is between winning and losing.”
UE still has time to build a postseason resume.
The NCAA’s Ratings Percentage Index won’t come out until later this season. Forty-eight teams make the NCAA tournament – 22 via automatic bids and 26 at-large.
Follow on Twitter (@ECP_Lintner) for updates during tomorrow’s match.