Aaron Colen, Sports Editor, Aaron.Colen@chickashanews.com
The USAO men's soccer team played just well enough to beat Mid-America Christian University on Tuesday, but not up to the Drovers' usual standards, according to head coach Jimmy Hampton.
The Drovers barely edged out the Evangels with a 1-0 win, and improved their record to 10-0-2 overall and 4-0 in SAC conference games.
Freshman forward Stephen Owusu scored USAO's only goal at the 76:26 mark in the game, assisted by Nicolas Alberto. Hampton credited the goal to two of his players rising to make a big play.
"We had Nic make a great 1 v. 1 play, and Owusu followed up on a great individual effort, and that's how we won the game," Hampton said. "Two guys separated themselves from everybody else."
USAO had several shots just miss, hitting off the post or the crossbar, and Evangels' goalkeeper Tyler McIntosh was kept busy with 10 saves.
Bryan Byars had three saves, and MACU only had eight total shots compared to USAO's 30.
Despite the final result, Hampton said he and the coaching staff were not pleased with the effort of the team in the game.
"I think the men were lazy," Hampton said. "I'll call it what it is. They didn't come out with any passion. I thought it was disrespectful to the game, and they know it."
The Drovers were ranked as the No. 3 team in the NAIA in the coaches' poll this week, and Hampton said the ranking may be going to his players' heads a bit.
"I think the men are a bit full of themselves with the rankings, and it's our job to get them to understand that you're only as good as your last game," Hampton said. "And right now, we're a 1-0 better team than MACU. They're not a top-10 team, and that's no disrespect to MACU."
As the postseason approaches, Hampton said hard work is the only remedy for the issues his team had on Tuesday.
"At the end of the day, you can tactical them to death, but every athlete has an opportunity to get up and choose that he's going to compete that day," Hampton said. "And if you choose not to, we could be the highest paid coaches in the world, and it doesn't matter."
The Drovers go on the road to Oklahoma City to play the Oklahoma City University Stars at 7 p.m. Friday.