The Oklahoma Wesleyan men’s soccer team is at the top of the conference and rankings as the regular season has come to a close. All that awaits is the possibility of postseason glory.
OKWU is also atop the NCCAA Division I rankings and has been there for eight weeks. Seven of those weeks saw the Eagles receive all the first-place votes. The Eagles are No. 4 in the NAIA poll.
Eagles’ coach Jamie Peterson said he knows that a lot went into having such a great run through the regular season.
“The guys have worked hard and put in a lot of effort,” Peterson said. “The coaching staff has been a huge help, getting our guys prepared each week.
“Obviously, to go 16-2, you have to be blessed a little along the way, and God’s blessed with good health and a great group of guys that seem to work extremely hard for each other.”
The success of the team is reflected in the MCAC postseason awards that were just announced. OKWU had nine players that earned first-team honors on the All-MCAC team, as well as three that were named to the second team.
OKWU in 2013 had the Offensive Player of the Year (Lucas Cordeiro), the Defensive Player of the Year (Ivan Ristic), the Freshman of the Year (Perica Obradovic) and the Coach of the Year in Peterson.
“That was obviously just a huge compliment to the guys and their effort this year,” Peterson said. “We’ve been blessed to be a solid group of guys that buy in to what we’re trying to do, and that is to push for a national title, if we can. And we want to reflect all of that and make sure that we glorify God in everything that we do.”
OKWU hosts Central Baptist in the semifinals of the conference tournament Friday at 4 p.m. The championship match will be Saturday, starting at 3 p.m.
With a win in the MCAC tournament, the Eagles will draw an automatic bid to the NAIA national tournament. A loss doesn’t necessarily mean OKWU won’t move on to the NAIA championship, but it would mean the team will have to wait until all the selections are revealed on Sunday.
“There are a lot of teams in the running that have a good resume along the way,” Peterson said. “We’ve had a lot of coaches tell us they think we’re in and that everything looks good, especially with the high ranking that we have.
“But I’ve seen stranger things happen with teams falling out and so I don’t want to sit there and bank on anything. I’d rather just win this conference tournament and let us do ourselves a favor and make sure we’re there.”