Sports writer Callie Hummel discusses the success of our nationally ranked soccer players.
With their 2020 soccer season consisting solely of conference play and resulting in a 6-4-2 record, the Tulsa men’s soccer team has come out of the gate hot in the 2021 season. They have a lot to prove in the new year, and have been doing just that.
Every year before the season starts, NCAA puts out their ranking predictions for all the Division 1 soccer teams in the country. If seeds are perfect, the lower seed will always beat the higher seed and the #1 team should win the NCAA D1 championship tournament. Although these lists were made by professionals who poured over statistics analyzing previous seasons, Tulsa has proven this ranking arbitrary.
Tulsa’s first games were away, beating Creighton 2-1 and Omaha 1-0. After just two games playing together, Tulsa, ranked #24, was pitted against Missouri State- the #8 ranked team in the country. However, this differential in rankings held no weight to Tulsa, as they ended the halftime up 2-0 with goals by senior midfielder Ben Barkley and sophomore midfielder Luke Jeffus. Malik Henry-Scott then made the team even more comfortable with their win by scoring late in the second half. An unassisted goal was taken from the top of the box, past four defenders and the goalie before Henry-Scott buried the ball in the back of the net for his first collegiate goal. This third goal ensured the win and pushed the team farther into their undefeated season with a 3-0 record.
The next game was not expected to be any easier for the team as they went up against the #10 ranked team, Marquette. However Malik Henry-Scott secured the win with a goal in the second half with an assist from Rooks Hunter. The 35 boys who make up Tulsa’s soccer team made the game look easy with their trailing passes, effortlessly crossed fields, and seamless give-and-goes. However, the four yellow cards given out during the game against Marquette prove the fight they have every time they step onto the field.
While the offense is certainly doing their part to keep the undefeated season, nobody defends the reign better than freshman goalkeeper, Alex Lopez. With two shutouts against top 10 teams in a row, Lopez and the defense have proven that no matter the team, their line is solid.
The last home game before the team goes on the road again was on September 11th against Michigan State. Michigan State is part of the Big 10 conference which includes major soccer powerhouses. It was another big game for Tulsa but they rose to the challenge, securing a 4-1 lead by halftime with 2 goals by Alex Meinhard, one by Takayoshi Wyatt, and the final by Malik Henry-Scott, who has proven himself to be indispensable on Tulsa’s front line with goals in the past three games straight, With less than 10 minutes left in the game, Marcos Moreno made the final score 5-1.
Going into the seventh week of season play, Tulsa’s bringing a 6-0-0 record with 12 goals for and only 2 goals against. The team is ranked #1 in their conference and earned the ninth ranking in the national Top Drawer Soccer poll, with numerous individual accolades for the players.
It’s no stretch to say if Tulsa continues to play with this heart and passion, they have a very successful season ahead of them.