LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - A win on Fridiay night would not just give the SFA soccer team bragging rights over rival Sam Houston State, it would also give the team at least a share of their first Southland regular season title since 2015.
The two rivals are set to face off in Nacogdoches on Friday night at 7 p.m.
SFA is tied with Lamar in conference at 7-3. A win and a Lamar loss or tie would give the team an outright title. If Lamar beats McNeese on Sunday and SFA wins then the two would share the title and SFA would go to the conference tournament as the one-seed based on the head to head matchup. If SFA were to lose and Lamar win then the ‘Jacks would finish second. There is a small chance that if both teams lose and Northwestern State wins that there could be three teams locked in the number one spot.
The only people that saw this coming for the team was probably the team. At the beginning of the year SFA was picked to finish 8th in the preseason poll. That is the same place they finished in 2019 and 2018.
“They like to prove people wrong and I like to prove people wrong,” first year head coach Tony Minatta said. “They were tired of being in 8th place. They wanted to be in a position where they are now. Their hard work has brought them to this place.”
The girls enter the field every match with what they think is the biggest chip on a shoulder that anyone could have.
“Knowing that people doubted us and don’t believe in us or want us us to succeed I think pushed us,” goalie Madeline Talbot said. “I think we came out stronger than we ever had since I have been here.”
For the seniors the game is a chance at validation for the long hours and sacrifices made during a year with COVID-19.
“This is so big because it is senior night,” midfielder Katelyn Termini said. “It’s frustrating [being overlooked] but honestly it gives us more motivation to prove them wrong.”
On paper SFA should win the match against Sam Houston but many people thought looking at the paper on SFA that they would be easy to beat this year.
“We just need to keep treating every game like we have been,” midfielder Caylon McMillan said. “We have to stay consistent, stay physical and stay in the right mindset. I think we all can agree that this is going to be one of the most important games.”