For just the third time in program history, the Midwestern State men's soccer team recorded an undefeated regular season following a 4-2 win over Eastern New Mexico on Senior Day Sunday afternoon at MSU Soccer Field.
Midwestern State went 16-0-1 (.971) this season to finish with its best regular season winning percentage in program history. The Mustangs joined the 2002 and 2010 teams as the only three squads to go unbeaten heading into postseason play with all three of those teams coming under the direction of head coach Doug Elder.
"It's neat that I was a part of all of those," Elder said. "It's a testament to what our program is all about. There's so many teams working hard, so many other coaches coaching hard and facilities improving. To continue to come out and compete and be one of the top five, 10, 20 teams in the country year in and year out, it's a grind but I'm proud of the guys in what we've established here."
In 2010, the Mustangs posted a 16-0-2 record on their way to a NCAA Final Four appearance, ending the season 19-1-2. MSU went 13-0-4 through the regular season in 2002 before ending up as NCAA quarterfinalists with a 14-1-4 mark.
Prior to Sunday's match, the MSU men's soccer program honored seniors Javan Toledo, Ben Clarvis, Albert Rodriguez, Juan Farres and Call Casarez in playing their final regular season contest at MSU Soccer Field.
The Mustangs jumped out to a early 2-0 lead in the first half with goals by junior midfielder Leon Taylor and senior forward Albert Rodriguez.
In the eighth minute, Taylor started the scoring for the Mustangs by netting his fifth goal of the season with a shot inside the box off assists from junior forward Christian Okeke and Rodriguez.
Less than 10 minutes later, Rodriguez recorded his team-best 16th goal of the season off a cross from senior midfielder Juan Farres into the middle of the box to put the Mustangs ahead 2-0.
Eastern New Mexico (6-8-2) halted a Mustangs shutout streak of four-straight matches and over 440 minutes when senior forward Alexis Medina brought out sophomore goalkeeper Richard Goss and found the far post from the right side of the box.
"I was a little disappointed in not getting a shutout. I thought we had been really good defensively," Elder said. "We had allowed one goal in the last seven games. After a tough game Friday, it was difficult for us mentally to get up. We have to fix a couple of things defensively. We got the job done and it's not easy to go 17 games without a loss. You have to look back at the body of work that we've done. I'm proud of the guys and their commitment to getting it done."
Minutes into the second half, Okeke put the Mustangs ahead 3-1 with a strike from the right side of the box to the far post for his sixth score of the season off a pass from Taylor.
The Greyhounds became just the third team this season to net multiple goals on the Mustangs defense as senior midfielder Carlos Viveros cut the ENMU deficit in half with a score from the left side of the box off a cross from junior defender Ryan Sinclair in the 63rd minute.
Midwestern State put it away in the 77th minute as sophomore forward Laurence Chamberlain sent a header into the net from a few yards out after receiving a ball from Rodriguez to make it a final 4-2.
The Mustangs outshot the Greyhounds 23-8 with a 12-3 advantage in shots on goal.
Midwestern State is set to make its ninth NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 10 seasons as the Mustangs have appeared at No. 1 in the South Central Region in all three rankings this season. The Mustangs will learn its NCAA second round opponent Monday at 5 p.m. when the NCAA Selection Show airs online at NCAA.com. The second round contest will be played Sunday, Nov. 15.