ABILENE, Texas - Hardin-Simmons' men's soccer team will host the American Southwest Conference Championship tournament for the first time since 2005 and will look for the eighth ASC men's soccer title in school history.
The Cowboys are 9-0-5 since starting the year 0-3. In those last 14 games, HSU has allowed just three goals. HSU is the No. 1 seed and has won the tournament the other four times they have hosted the event.
This marks the 11th straight ASC Tournament appearance for the Cowboys while they have appeared in 15 of the 16 ASC tournaments all-time and have a record of 18-7. HSU has won the league title seven times, more than any other school. HSU's last title came in 2009 when it beat Mary Hardin-Baylor in penalty kicks in Belton. HSU lost in penalty kicks a year ago to eventual-champion Mississippi College. HSU won ASC titles in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006 and 2009.
The Cowboys received a first-round bye and will take on the winner of a Thursday game between Louisiana College and East Texas Baptist. HSU plays at 11 a.m. on Friday and a win would put them into the Sunday ASC final at 1 p.m.
Hardin-Simmons is 12-0-5 in its last 17 American Southwest Conference matches. That is the longest unbeaten streak in ASC history. The Cowboys allowed only one goal in conference play this season. It is the fewest goals allowed in a conference season in league history.
Freshman Goalkeeper Michael Vargas has had a stellar freshman campaign for the Cowboys. Vargas has started 13 games this season and has been a vital part to the defense this year. In 1,138 minutes in goal, Vargas has allowed only three goals. He leads the nation in save percentage at 93.6 and has a 0.24 goals against average, which is second nationally.
The Cowboys have had a very good season and with the amount of underclassmen that play the future looks really bright. HSU has only three seniors - J.P. Lowenthal, Juancho Jarquin and Dillon Parkhill. Senior Matt Pitcock, who was the leading returning scorer missed the season with a torn ACL and MoMo Diallo, who was expected to make a huge impact has played in just two games on the year because of an injury.
HSU has played a variety of lineups, but the players most expected to start include two seniors, four juniors, four sophomores and a freshman. The roster breakdown of the 27 players on the postseason roster includes 10 freshmen, five sophomores, nine juniors and three seniors.
Six different players have scored two or more goals this season. Sophomore Colyn Moore has seven goals on the year and Kevin McNeal and Rowan Meyer are next with five goals each.
HSU has allowed nine goals on the season and six of those came in the three-game losing streak to start the season. The Cowboys have allowed just three goals in the last 14 games and have recorded 11 shutouts. The defensive backline is one of the best in the conference and includes Dustin Beal, Tanner Coffin, Nik Valley, Ewa Coleman and defensive midfielder Taylor Jackson. The Cowboys are big and physical in the back.
Coach Dan Heger is in his 11th season as head coach of his alma mater. Since 2003, Heger has compiled record of 124-59-28, while appearing in every ASC Men's Soccer Tournament. His Cowboys have won three ASC title.
2013 AMERICAN SOUTHWEST CONFERENCE MEN'S SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT
HSU Soccer Complex / Abilene, Texas / Hosted by: Hardin-Simmons University
Thursday, November 7
Game 1: #4 Louisiana College vs. #5 East Texas Baptist, 11 a.m.
Game 2: #3 Texas-Dallas vs. #6 Ozarks, 2 p.m.
Friday, November 8
Game 3: #1 Hardin-Simmons vs. Winner Game 1, 11 a.m.
Game 4: #2 Texas-Tyler vs. Winner Game 2, 2 p.m.
Sunday, November 10
Game 5: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4, 1 p.m.
Information for this story provided by HSU Athletics.