Hounds' denied berth in tourney
Last updated 11/4/2023 at 11:49am
As Wednesday’s Lone Star Conference and regular-season finale was playing out at Greyhound Stadium, the Eastern New Mexico University men’s soccer squad went from knowing a win against Texas-Tyler could possibly get the Greyhounds a first-round home match in the six-team Lone Star Conference tournament to realizing they’d need to win just to make it in.
A tie might have also gotten them in, but in the end the 1-1 draw with the Patriots wasn’t quite enough.
In a league which featured 15 ties in 45 matches, the Hounds (4-7-6, 2-3-4 LSC) were left to share seventh with Lubbock Christian (6-4-7, 2-3-4). Meantime, Tyler’s long-shot bid to qualify came to an end, and the Patriots (5-4-8, 1-3-5) ended up ninth in the 10-team circuit.
With a victory, Hounds coach Brandon Misuraca said, the Hounds would have finished in a tie for third with Dallas Baptist (6-7-4, 3-3-3), but would have been the fourth seed based on goal differential with the Patriots in conference play. That still would’ve gotten them a home match in the tourney.
“You look at the chances we had (against Tyler), we should’ve done better,” said Misuraca, in his second season at ENMU. “We didn’t start the season the way we wanted, but we were one goal away from finishing in the top half (of the LSC).”
ENMU took a 1-0 lead when junior defender Colin Hyzy scored his first goal of the season from the middle of the box off a corner kick in the 30th minute. Tyler pulled even when sophomore forward Thato Meko tallied his team-leading fifth goal of the campaign early in the second stanza – the Patriots’ only shot on goal all night.
Each team had a couple of chances after that, but no one could break through.
The Hounds were in third place for a time earlier in the conference season, but finished with three ties and two losses over the final two weeks.
Second-ranked Midwestern State (17-0-1, 9-0) ran away with the league crown, and will host the tournament semifinals on Friday and the championship match on Sunday. Despite a 4-3 loss to last-place St. Edward’s on Wednesday, West Texas A&M managed to hang on to the No. 2 spot and a first-round bye.
Quarterfinal tilts on Saturday sent No. 5 Oklahoma Christian to No. 4 St. Mary’s and No. 6 Texas A&M International to No. 3 Dallas Baptist.
Two of ENMU’s losses were by 1-0 scores, including an Oct. 21 match at Midwestern State.
“Before you can win, you have to compete,” Misuraca said. “I think we showed everyone that we compete with anyone in this conference."
ENMU 0, West Texas A&M 0 (women’s soccer, Tuesday) – At Canyon, the Greyhounds and Lady Buffs were both looking for their first win in LSC play, but neither side could find the back of the net.
The Hounds finished the campaign at 1-12-5 (0-10-2 LSC) while WT ended 1-10-6 (0-8-5) after losing its finale on Friday night at St. Mary’s.
ENMU outshot its rival 21-9 overall, including 7-6 on goal. The Hounds put four shots on frame in the first 20 minutes while WT had just two shots on goal in the half.
When play resumed, WT fired four shots on goal in the first 10 minutes, but Hounds senior goalkeeper Samantha Jeffries was equal to the task. Jeffries, one of eight seniors playing their final match at ENMU, posted her second clean sheet of the campaign and finished with six saves.
Wayland Baptist 3, ENMU 2 (volleyball, Tuesday) – Despite a record-tying performance by senior outside hitter Mikaela Garvin and a triple-double from senior middle blocker Gracelyn Stubbs, the Hounds dropped a 22-25, 25-20, 25-23, 22-25, 15-13 non-league decision to Wayland Baptist in their home finale at Greyhound Arena.
Garvin’s 29 kills tied a school mark set by Lindsey Schiely against Angelo State on Oct. 8, 2005. Meantime, Stubbs used her setter role to compile her third triple-double of the campaign with 13 kills, 10 digs and a personal-best 26 assists, becoming just the fifth player in NCAA Division II to post a trio of triple-doubles this season.
Senior outside hitter/libero Rylee Mapes also had a personal-best with 20 digs for the Hounds, while sophomore setter Kayla Ison added 24 assists. ENMU had slight edges over the Pioneers in kills (70-64), digs (60-57) and total blocks (9-6).
Sophomore outside hitter Fade Ogunbade notched 19 kills and four total blocks for Wayland (13-12), while junior outside hitter Selma Sutaj added 16 kills, 18 digs and six aces. Freshman setter Valentina Bozzato finished with 51 assists.
Game 1 went to the Hounds after they scored the final four points to erase a 22-21 deficit. A 5-0 run was enough to lift WBU in a tight second set and the Pioneers erased a three-point deficit with a 6-1 stretch to end Game 3.
It was the Hounds’ turn to rally late in the fourth set, overcoming a 21-20 deficit with a set-ending 5-1 surge. ENMU then fell behind early in Game 5, worked its way back to lead 12-11 and then saw the Pioneers scored four of the match’s final five points.
ENMU wraps up the season with Lone Star Conference road tilts against Lubbock Christian on Wednesday and Western New Mexico on Friday.