With a 3-0 Heartland Conference opening win Saturday over Dallas Baptist, surging St. Edwards has vaulted into the HeroSports Top 25.
The Hilltoppers (6-2-1, 1-0) were among HeroSports’s biggest upward movers last week, landing at BR-25, after Saturday’s conference win over BR-187 Dallas Baptist.
St. Edwards’ upward movement was fueled in part by a very strong 1-1 draw on the road against much higher ranked BR-9 Midwestern State (now BR-11). It was a game a confident Hilltoppers team had hoped to win.
The team was really disappointed with the result. It felt like a loss.
“The team was really disappointed with the result. It felt like a loss,” Coach Brian Young told the St. Edwards athletic web site.
They’ll get another chance – the game was the first in a home-and-home series with Midwestern State, so the teams will tangle again in Austin on Oct. 18.
The Hilltoppers play next at BR-192 Oklahoma Christian on Monday.
St. Edward’s senior midfielder Andrew Fox got his first career hat trick in the win over Dallas Baptist, starting with a goal in just the second minute of the game. His second and third goals also came in the first half on free kicks, and Fox now has 7 on the season, matching his output for all of last year.
It was also Fox that earned St. Ed’s the draw at Midwestern State, scoring on an 85th minute penalty kick.
“Fox has improved each season and is one of the hardest-working players on the team,” Young said at the season’s outset. “I expect a lot from him this fall as a player and leader.”
As Heartland Conference play kicks off, St Edwards is easily the odds-on favorite to win the league, and is coming off back-to-back conference championships and 12 win seasons the last two years. But the ‘Toppers failed to make the NCAA tournament in both those seasons.
Hoping to get into the tournament, the team has a tougher non-conference schedule this year. The Hilltoppers are also more experienced this year, but for much of the early season have been without last year’s offensive leader, Heartland Conference Player of the Year Daniel Riley, who has been sidelined by injury.
Riley, who led last year’s squad in goals with 15, played a full 90 minutes for the first time in the Midwestern State game and appears to be close to returning to form. He recorded 62 minutes in the Dallas Baptist game, but has yet to tally a goal for the Hilltoppers this season.
After the Oklahoma Christian game, the Hilltoppers start a three-game homestand, hosting Heartland foes Newman University (BR-186), and BR-162 Rogers State before the home rematch with Midwestern State.