By Taylor Long
The CSU Bakersfield men’s soccer team is set to return to the Western Athletic Conference Tournament in Las Vegas, N.V.
The Roadrunners are seeded sixth in the 2017 WAC men’s soccer tournament bracket. They are set to face Seattle U, who is seeded third, on Wednesday, Nov. 8 at 4 p.m.
On Friday, Nov. 3, the Roadrunners lost their final regular season game against San Jose State, 1-0.
CSUB was forced to await the outcome of the matches on Saturday to see if they would qualify.
By then only three teams, Air Force Academy, Seattle University, and UNLV had qualified for the tournament leaving the remaining five teams at a fight to the finish.
Air Force is the number one seed in the tournament and are currently ranked 20th in the nation.
By virtue of Utah Valley University’s loss to Seattle U, the Roadrunners qualified for the tournament.
“It’s nerve-wracking having to rely on other teams to see if we would qualify for the tournament, but we just had to wait and watch all the games to see if we got in,” said redshirt-freshman goalkeeper Detre Bell.
“The result of Friday’s game was disappointing but there was something inside me that felt like we were going to make it. We shouldn’t do it that way and hopefully it’s not like that next year, but when some of the other teams failed to win on Saturday it was a big relief and our players are ready to go and do what is expected now,” said senior defender Jamie Carey-Morrell.
The Redhawks have been a tough team for the Roadrunners to defeat in the past. Seattle U defeated CSUB, 4-0 in Seattle, Wash. on Sept. 29.
“Previously when we’ve played them we haven’t gotten the best results, but we’ve got tactical awareness and we know what to expect from them,” said Carey-Morrell.
In 2015, the Roadrunners advanced to the WAC semifinals to take on the Redhawks, but were left with a 4-0 loss.
“Four years ago we knocked them out with a conference tournament and lately they’ve been a very difficult opponent for us,” said Head Coach Richie Grant.
“There are some adjustments we’ll make in order to make us more of a competitor but, the beauty of a conference tournament is that you get a clean slate and the most important thing for us is making sure the focus is heavily on us and not the other team,” said Grant. “I definitely think you’ll see an improvement from us in this game.”
Carey-Morrell has been a key player for the Roadrunners in their success as he was second on the team in assists and third on the team in points last year.
“Tournament is different than league. said Carey-Morell. “There’s a lot more on the line so we’re going to go out and hit it in the first minute and want it more than them.”
Bell has been another standout player. The transfer from the University of Connecticut has managed a total of 78 saves this season and a 1.54 goals against average.
“As a goalie when you’re preparing to play against a team like Seattle U you have to get your mind physically and mentally ready,” said Bell.
The winner of the match between CSUB and Seattle U will advance to take on the winner of the matchup between San Jose State and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in the semifinals on Friday, Nov. 10.