If you look at the MSU men's soccer teams' record from last year the first thing you see is 10-and-2. That's pretty good by anyone's standards. But if you follow the record one dash further you find a 5, that five is the number of times msu finished a game in a tie last year. Not so great.
Thanks to that MSU missed the playoffs. Ending a six year run where MSU made the playoffs every year. This year the mustangs are looking to not only get back to the playoffs. But to make another run at that elusive national championship.
Head coach Doug Elder knows winning, "we've won conference championships in the past where we just put the trophy on the shelf and move on. We want to win a championship. Everybody knows MSU hasn't had a championship in NAIA or NCAA and it's a race."
A race that MSU Elder and his team are intent on winning. Missing the playoffs is a rarity for MSU. The mustangs have only missed the playoffs three times since 2002, but coach Elder says one of the most important things is keeping things in perspective, "we don't look at it as a bad year we look at it as a missed opportunity and having an opportunity this year to come back. We've got a heck of a schedule. Everyone we play is out to get us. We've always got a target on our back and we accept and understand that role."
Two players hoping to make that target a little harder to hit are VcMore Eligwe and Len Smith. Smith last year's LSC offensive newcomer of the year with 10 goals and two assists, Eligwe adding in seven goals and four assists a year ago. Eligwe saying he likes the look of this year's team, "when you look at our past history you see that we always go to the playoffs like you just said. So being the first team in years to not do that really hit us hard so we're kind of taking that as a motivation to work harder and do better this year:"
Len Smith agrees that this could be a big year, "i think with the year coming up every body comes in to MSU expecting to win. Expecting to be a part of a winning program. Last year we noticed it's not just going to be given. We've got to work for it. It took us till late in the year to figure that out and unfortunately we were the last team out of the playoffs but i think this year we've got a core group coming back i think the sky's the limit with this team and i think we can do some big things this year."
In fact this team already has done some impressive things. Including beating division one powerhouse SMU 3-1 and tying Tulsa 1-1 just this spring. Coach Elder says MSU has one important thing, "i think it's a confidence thing. I think we're going in confident. We're going in with some experience but we have some new players that need to adjust and learn what we do here and how we win here."
And as for that soccer ball sized chip on the mustangs shoulders after missing the playoffs last year, Len Smith says it's still there, "there is a chip on our shoulder and there's a chip on everyone's shoulder that plays us because they still look at us as the big boys. But there is a personal chip on everybody's shoulder that ten wins two losses but five ties isn't acceptable here and that's gotta be fixed."