By GARY STALLARD
Since their inaugural season in 2016, the Angelina College Roadrunner men’s soccer team has experienced a steady climb in improvement, from the program’s 1-12-2 finish in ’16 to this year’s 7-10-1 regular-season record. Along the way, the teams have proven themselves tough outs to even some of the more established teams in Region XIV.
This year, the Roadrunners reached a coveted milestone: After going 6-8 in conference play – including an upset of nationally ranked Tyler Junior College on Oct. 5 – AC’s men have qualified for the conference tournament for the very first time.
The accomplishment caps a season filled with plenty of adversity and uncertainty, with numerous close losses combined with some convincing wins. Despite those ups and downs, the team seems to be hitting its collective stride at exactly the right moment.
The ‘Runners capped the regular season with a 3-1 win over Blinn College Saturday in Brenham. Ulises Mercado, who leads the team with nine goals this season, scored a pair of goals – including a spectacular overhead kick to the nets – and Taurayi Tugwete added another to give AC its sixth win in conference play.
On Tuesday, the Roadrunners will open the postseason against those same Bucs on the same pitch in Brenham.
Coach Matt Hubert said the team’s mindset is composed of both confidence and determination.
“We’re all excited, especially after what happened Saturday night in getting such a big win,” Hubert said. “The past couple of weeks we’ve been right there as a ball club, and some unfortunate things have happened during matches that kept us from experiencing success. But it looks like we’ve gotten over that hump, and things are clicking right now.
“There’s a lot of confidence among the guys right now. There’s not a guy in the locker room who doesn’t feel we can have some success in the playoffs.”
The Roadrunners and Bucs will kick off at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Hohlt Park in Brenham.
The e-mail address for AC’s Sports Information Director is firstname.lastname@example.org.