Keep an eye on men’s soccer in 2020

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Keep an eye on men’s soccer in 2020

Brooks Maynard, Reporter

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The Mountaineers’ men’s soccer team flew a little under the campus radar this season amidst the excitement surrounding the football team. But, the team quietly posted its best record since 2008, going 11-7-1, including an appearance in the second round of the Sun Belt Conference tournament, which was hosted at Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex in Boone. 

Mountaineer nation needs to be ready to pay attention to men’s soccer in 2020 because I think it’s poised to break out. The team has improved every season under fourth-year head coach Jason O’Keefe, and this is the first time men’s soccer has produced back-to-back winning seasons since 2011-12. They also appeared in the semi-finals on the Sun Belt Tournament, the furthest they’ve gone since O’Keefe took over the program. 

The Mountaineers will have a host of talent coming back to lead the team from where they’ve left off in 2019. The most notable of these include junior defender Zeiko Harris and sophomore forward Camden Holbrook, who finished the season ranked fifth in the Sun Belt in game-winning goals and sophomore midfielder Alex Hernandez, who led the Mountaineers in goals scored. Harris was also named defensive player of the year for the Sun Belt in 2019. 

While their Sun Belt position leaves a bit to be desired, improvement there will come naturally once they’ve put all the pieces together.  The team posted a solid overall record after a tough schedule that included a match with No. 19 Penn State and a road win against UNC, the first victory over the Tar Heels since 1980. If the Mountaineers can compete with national powers like these, they can compete with anybody.