For TMN, I’m Jordan Hester.
The No. 1 seed Fort Hays State Men’s Soccer Team (13-4-1) look to extend their season this weekend against the No. 2 seed Lindenwood Lions (13-3-2) in Hays for the Central Regional Championship.
Over the Tiger’s short six year history, they have attended five NCAA DII National Tournaments, and look for their third Central Regional Championship in as many years. This year, they look to get past the Super Regional Championship, a feat they have yet to accomplish. A win in there would move them to the NCAA DII Semifinal for the first time in team history.
Between Lindenwood and FHSU, 22 players received All-MIAA honors, with Lindenwood having 10 players and FHSU having 12. Both teams landed 6 players each with All-Central Region Honors. All six players for FHSU garnered Central Region First Team honors. With this amount of talent on both sides, Friday’s game is one the FHSU players are looking forward to.
“Busting your tail all season and everything, it’s the one thing you work for is to have the game at home.” said Captain, Damion Cooper, who is completing his senior season with the Tigers.
Since entering the MIAA in 2012 and after fully transitioning into NCAA DII in 2013 from the Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC) at the NAIA level, Lindenwood has given the Tigers some headaches throughout the past 5 seasons. The built up rivalry is something that Cooper as well as fellow Seniors, Michael Cole and Drew Wilson can attest to.
From the rivalry, Cooper stated that the team “always live[s] up to those moments to play against those ole lions. It’s a fun situation and fun time.” Redshirt Senior and All-MIAA Second Team honoree, Michael Cole agreed in saying “it’s been a tough rivalry” and that “it would mean nothing more to us [than] to beat them on our home field in front of our fans.”
Senior and All-MIAA First Team member as well as All-Central Region member, Drew Wilson is excited about the game as well. “Being seniors, it’s an honor and a privilege to [host].” But the seniors aren’t the only ones excited about this game.
MIAA Freshman of the Year, Luis Mendez said “Coming in as a freshman, and then winning the region, coming in as first seed and being able to host the tournament is something amazing”
The Tigers all time record since 2012 against the Lions is 4-7-1 and when the Tigers are at home their record is split .500 at 2-2. This season, the two teams split one game a piece.
“We’re happy to be hosting,” said Brett Parker in his sixth year as Head coach. “It was a big goal we set out at the beginning of the year to host Super Regionals.” The Super Regional is comprised of the Midwest Regional Championship and the Central Regional Championship and the regions take turns hosting every other year.
On Friday, No. 1 seed Rockhurst is set to face the No. 6 seed Drury at 4pm for the Midwest Regional Championship. Kick off for the Tigers is set at 7pm. The winners of each match will then play on Sunday at 1pm for the Super Regional Championship for a chance to move on to the NCAA DII National Semifinals set in Kansas City at the Swope Park Soccer Village, December 1-3.
Tickets for the tournament each day are $5 for adults and $3 for students/youth (K-12 & college). FHSU Students will get in FREE by presenting their valid Tiger Card.