Men’s soccer remains undefeated six games into season

Tigers continue their winning streak with wins against the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and Concordia University

After winning their first four matches of this still-young season, the Trinity men’s soccer team received the news last week that they were ranked no. 12 in the first release of the United Soccer Coaches Top 25 poll. They carried that ranking with them into this past weekend, when they defeated the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (UMHB) and Concordia University Texas 3-0 and 3-1, respectively, to improve to 6-0-0.

The Tigers and the UMHB Crusaders met at Paul McGinlay Field on Friday, Sept. 17 at 7:30 p.m. Even as the sun tucked itself away behind the horizon, the players on the pitch faced temperatures over 90 degrees thanks to the high humidity in San Antonio.

But the Tigers refused to be suppressed by the unfavorable conditions. From the opening kickoff they were far more aggressive than their opponent, stepping in to cut out passes and pressing forward into the offensive third, where they spent much of the game.

In the 23rd minute of the match, Trinity’s aggression finally paid off when first-year transfer Michael Meese connected with senior Fraser Burns inside the box. The veteran Tiger and native Scot would find the back of the net for what proved to be the game-winning goal.

When the action restarted the Crusaders looked to equalize, but the Trinity back line held firm, allowing the opposition only seven shots on the night compared to the Tigers’ 24. While a number of defenders were deserving of individual recognition, longtime coach Paul McGinlay spoke especially highly of senior Brady Johnston.

“As a central defender, I think he was, and you can’t normally say this, 100% effective on tackles and aerial challenges. To have that kind of presence back there is always phenomenal, and he really showed his experience and tactically being in the right place at the right time … He was most certainly a bright spot among many,” McGinlay said.

Trinity persisted on the attack for much of the remainder of the first half, and in the 38th minute they found a second, comfort-inducing goal. It came after senior Michael Somerville dribbled into the opposition’s box and went down, earning the Tigers a penalty kick. Junior Jack Downes stepped up to take the attempt, and although the Crusader goalkeeper guessed correctly, leaping to his left, Downes’ attempt was struck with so much confidence and pace that the ball still snuck past. Trinity took the 2-0 lead with them into the locker room.

Men’s soccer remains undefeated at six games into the season. (Andrew Duong)

Not long into the second period, the inevitable happened: Jack Eubank found Michael Meese, who converted for the Tigers’ third and final goal of the night. It marked Meese’s fifth goal of the season in as many games. According to McGinlay, Meese is a part of a select few players who have given such a striking performance on the field.

“Five goals and five games. And then I have to check the record books and see how many players have done it in the past but it’s only a handful. So it’s a big task, you know, to have accomplished that,” McGinlay said.

Asked about his success early in the season and what his goal has been each time he’s stepped onto the pitch, Meese explained that he tries to focus on his love of the game.

“Every game, just having fun. There were a few times this past year during COVID I didn’t have too much fun playing soccer. So I think just going out there, playing the game I love, the game I’ve played for 15 years, and we’re just having fun. After that, you know, it’ll work itself out,” Meese said.

So far for Meese and the rest of the Trinity men’s side, it has worked out. But Coach McGinlay makes sure to keep his side grounded. After the win over UMHB, he mentioned a team concept called “Wise Worry.”

“Just because you won Friday, doesn’t guarantee you anything Sunday. Today’s a new day. Never underestimate the opposition’s desire to win the game. We played five teams that wanted to beat us. Just because we beat five doesn’t mean we automatically beat six,” McGinlay said.

The Tigers will surely keep this in mind as they move forward, hoping to build on the spring 2021 season when they finished atop the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) regular season standings before falling in the postseason tournament.

The Tigers resume action this weekend with a game against Colorado College on Friday, Sept. 24. It will be the team’s seventh consecutive home game to start the year, and will get under way at 7:30 p.m. at McGinlay Field.