CHICKASHA – After a disappointing start for the Drover men, the team rallied together and created a dominating force, winning 10 in a row and setting themselves in a position to earn another trip to the NAIA National Championship tournament.
“We started off not particularly fantastic coming in 4-4,” senior defender Phil Pryor said. “We won the last 10 games … Now, we are in our conference final, which is great, and this is back where we used to be.”
The Drovers host seventh-seeded Saint Gregory’s in the Sooner Athletic Conference Championship at 2 p.m. Thursday. SGU is on a four-game winning streak that got them into the tournament and allowed them to take down second-seed Wayland Baptist and third-seeded Texas Wesleyan on the road.
With both teams seemingly unstoppable, Pryor said the Drovers have confidence going into the game. USAO defeated SGU 1-0 in a double overtime battle earlier this season.
“We are confident playing absolutely anyone in our conference,” Pryor said. “It doesn't really matter who we play because we’re always going to have chances, we’re always going to score goals. We aren’t going to lose this time.”
The winner of the SAC tournament receives an automatic berth to the NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship Opening Round. The Drovers are looking for their fifth straight tournament appearance.
“We obviously want to go back. We don’t end our season without going back to the place we have been to for the last three years. It just wouldn’t seem the same without getting to the final location,” Pryor said of himself and his fellow seniors. “So I mean, there is some pressure there, but I think we can handle that pressure as we have done in the last three years.”