Nov. 11 – The Missouri Southern soccer team will end its season with a home game against Washburn Saturday at 2:00 p.m. at Fred G. Hughes Stadium.
The regular season finale marks the end of the collegiate careers of 12 MSSU seniors, including Nick Williams, Jalen Dennis, Luke Taggart, Coleman Booker, Jamie Tago, Solomon Garcia, Jeremiah Hawkins, Jokiem Crawford, Richard Jordan Jr. and William Williams , Dwayne Lawson and Chris Boudreaux.
“These are some guys who went through a lot at Missouri Southern,” said Atiba Bradley, sophomore MSSU head coach. “I can identify with them, you know, they play for multiple head coaches, play for multiple coordinators, play for multiple positions (coaches). That makes it difficult, but these are people who have continued to work and continue to be great leaders and have been examples for the younger guys of how this thing should be going forward.”
This season, MSSU’s senior division has already led the Lions (4-6) to their most successful season since 2014, when they went 4-7.
Southern has had a total of six MIAA wins over the past four full seasons (2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021) — a span of time that has seen three different head coaches take the helm of the program.
“I just really value the community, and during my time here at Southern, I just think about what we’ve been through as a group of seniors,” said Jordan, an All-American linebacker and two-time All-MIAA selection for the Lions. “It’s been a long time coming and going out with a win would be great. I just feel like we owe it to this community and the green and gold.”
MSSU will play against a Washburn team that is down 6-4 on Nov. 5 in Topeka, Kansas after a 37-23 loss to No. 5 Pittsburg State. The Lions are seeking their first win over the Ichabods since 2014 when they clinched a 42-21 triumph in Joplin.
Washburn has outscored his opponents by an average of nine points per game this year.
The Ichabods’ offense, which totals 407 yards per game, is led by quarterback Kellen Simoncic, who has completed 195 of 312 passes for 2,354 yards and 25 touchdowns with eight interceptions.
Six Washburn players have received 100+ yards in James Letcher Jr. (1,005), Peter Afful (613), Taylon Peters (190), Collin Wilson (305), Tyce Brown (250) and Matthew Simmons (154).
Peters also leads the Washburn ground attack with 549 yards and five TDs on 124 carries.
“It’s a good team,” Bradley said of Washburn. “Offensively they have some big play skills with their two top receivers. I think one (Letcher) is leading the conference in receptions and yards. He is also a dynamic returnee. So they have some big play skills.”
The MSSU averages 21 ppg while giving away 23.8 ppg to its opponents.
The Lions’ offense, averaging 311.9 yards per game, is led by redshirt freshman QB Luke Sampson, who will make his third start of the season on Saturday. Sampson has completed 47 of 86 passes for 517 yards and four TDs with no interceptions.
Southern has three players with triple-digit receiving yards in Boudreaux (346), Jaedon Stoshak (397) and Ezekiel Lang (425). Nathan Glades is the team’s top rusher with 839 yards and six points on 178 carries.
Linebackers Jordan, Booker, and Colton Winder lead the MSSU defense with 92, 59, and 86 tackles, respectively. Jordan also has a team strength of 6 1/2 tackles for loss, while defensemen Solomona Fetuao and Jermaine Young Jr. lead the team in sacks of three each.
“These guys are competitors,” Bradley said. “They want to win. They want to play at a high level and I think they take on the challenge every week.
“The biggest thing is winning, and just so these guys can end on a positive note. You will remember your last game. For some of these guys it’s the last time they put on pads, the last time they’ll be on the sidelines. So you want to give these guys something to go out with on an extremely positive note, almost a reward for all the hard work and sacrifice these guys have put in over the last five years and 18 months or how long they’ve been at are us.”
Reach out to Jared Porter on Twitter at @JaredRyanPorter.