Coaches point out highlights, areas for improvement as postseason approaches, playoff race starts to heat up
With the midway point for conference play drawing near, the men’s and women’s soccer teams are aiming to be consistent as they set their eyes on postseason play.
Both teams stand near the top of the ASC, with the men (9-3-2) standing in third place and the women (10-2-1) tied for second place with Concordia and LeTourneau.
The men’s squad has faced both highs and lows in its season, with the team taking down nationally ranked power Trinity early in the season and then struggling against conference opponents Mary Hardin-Baylor and UT Tyler.
Still, as the season starts to come to a close, head coach Jason Hirsch is confident in the way the team is headed.
“I think the team is headed in the right direction,” Hirsch said. “You know, our goal at the start of the year is to improve every week and improve each game, and I think we’re at a place now that we’re doing that.”
Hirsch said the team’s closing stretch, which includes Hardin-Simmons, Howard Payne and Concordia, will be a tough six games for the Comets.
One thing he focuses on is putting up more shots than the other team, something that he has seen the team be successful in so far. He said the only team that has outshot them this far was Trinity, which at the time was a nationally ranked squad.
“I don’t want to be sitting back and absorbing pressure; I want to be dishing out the pressure,” Hirsch said. “And also having an attacking kind of philosophy says we want to score lots of goals. We don’t just want to sit back and try to stop you from scoring; we want to be the one who scores goals.”
On the women’s side, the season has been marked with a new and improved offensive attack under head coach Kanute Drugan.
Along with that, Drugan said he has seen consistent growth in many of his players.
“We’ve seen a lot of individual development. We’ve seen the team come together in a big way,” Drugan said. “We threw something unique and new for them this last game, and they handled it pretty well.”
Even though the team only has four games left in the regular season, Drugan said the fatigue factor has not set in yet. He said they actually have a better fitness level when they’re playing.
As the season winds down and the team looks forward to the post-season, Drugan emphasized the need to focus on details.
“The difference between us and our opponents in the conference playoffs is going to be a really small, really narrow margin, and that narrow margin can tip the scales one way or another,” he said.
Hirsch said that his mindset is on sharpening the minor details of the team’s scoring capability.
He said at this point they just want to get into the conference tournament. The confidence and health of the team will be crucial for its success if the Comets head into the postseason.
“On the men’s side, it’s crazy this year,” Hirsch said. “Everybody’s beating everybody. Any team could, I’ve always said that, any team could beat every other team in the ASC on any given day. We have to just stay focused on getting in. That’s not a given. They don’t just hand it out; you have to earn it.”