Date Published

Thursday, September 6, 2012

CHICKASHA – With several starters having graduated, no one was quite sure how the 2012 men’s soccer team at USAO would begin this season.

“We’re a young team, so it’s been a real good start for us,” Byars said of the first three games. “The concerns are still there. But we’ve had some boys step up into positions, so it’s not as bad as it was at the very, very beginning.”

The Drovers had to compete against two highly-ranked teams as the first two games of the season, beating both 2-1.

After the big wins, USAO came out ranked third in the NAIA in a poll released Tuesday evening. It is the highest USAO soccer has appeared on the poll in the program’s history.

“To the boys, it’s a big thing,” Byars said. “But to me, every game is a different game, you play it like it’s your last game anyway. But higher rankings do help with national tournament seeding … the higher we go and longer we stay there, the better.”

Earning 10 shutouts last season and All-Conference First Team honors, Byars has set personal goals to end the season with more clean sheets this season. Additionally, the team has set some goals for 2012.

“Team goals: We all want to go back (to nationals),” Byars said. “And prove that we can make it, and we can play with the big teams. We played with them this weekend, and we think we can do it again.”