“This is a big weekend,” Bisons’ coach Charles Morrow said.”The players are well aware of what is ahead.
“The guys are so focused on playing. We could have a circus next to the field and it wouldn’t distract them at all.”
Prior to the start of the game the Bisons will honor four seniors _ forward Miguel DaSilva, midfielder/defender Garrett McLaughlin, defender Chase Nieri and midfielder Angel Chairez.
“These players have broken records,” Morrow said. “They have won more games than any senior group we have ever had. They are a huge part of our improvement over the last three years.”
The game, which starts at 7 at the Lipscomb Soccer Complex, is also part of the Coaches vs. Cancer initiative which includes five games throughout the conference on Thursday and Friday.
Players will be wearing pink armbands and tape and coaches will be wearing pink polo shirts on the sidelines.
Dick’s Sporting Goods is a sponsor for the program. This is the first time all 10 A-Sun team have worked together for one cause.
Cancer survivors, and those dealing with the disease, are extended a special invitation to attend. There will be a ceremony during halftime to honor those present and to remember those who have lost the struggle.
Morrow praised assistant coach Kevin Burk for his work in organizing the event, not only for the Bisons, but across the Atlantic Sun Conference.
“Kevin has done an outstanding job of putting this thing together and making sure it got done,” Morrow said. “We have talked about doing something conference-wide for years.”
The Bisons, 7-6-0, 3-2-0 in the A-Sun, have won their last three matches and are fourth in the conference standings. Upstate is 1-9-3, 0-6-0 in the conference.
Morrow doesn’t see any signs of overconfidence among his players as they approach the last four games of the regular season.
“They understand the things that have brought them some success,” Morrow said. “They are still grounded. Their heads have not gotten too big.”
Garret Pettis is leading a balanced scoring attack for the Bisons with six goals. He also leads the team in points (14), shots (33) and shots on goal (13). DaSilva and McLaughlin have scored five goals each.
“We are playing very well,” Morrow said. “Training has been unbelievable.”
The Bisons beat Belmont 6-2 Oct. 14. Morrow gave his players three days off to relax after the “Battle of the Boulevard” win.
“That’s a little unheard of to take that many days off in the middle of the season,” Morrow said. “But it has been such a huge benefit so far. The guys feel good about where we are.
“Monday wasn’t great, but Tuesday was very, very good as far as the intensity and quality. From a quality standpoint it was one of the best practices, if not the best, we had had all year."
The Bisons jumped 17 spots in one week in the NCAA RPI rating from 93rd to 76, one of the biggest jumps nationally.
“RPIs are tied with what we are doing as a team, but are also tied to the teams we have played,” Morrow said. “SMU is second and Tulsa is up there in the RPI as well. That certainly doesn’t hurt.
“We have had some big wins on the road. Anytime you win on the road it helps as well.”
Morrow stresses that the A-Sun overall is doing well in the RPI with six teams in the top 100. Increasing the number of teams that are rated high will help the conference gain an additional NCAA invitation.
“We look at is as coaches and are certainly happy with our progress,” Morrow said. “There are a couple of what ifs. We let the Florida Gulf Coast game get away from us and that would have been a huge win to give us an RPI bump.
“Coaches look at it and think about it. But I know our players have no idea where we are at RPI-wise. They don’t look at it. They are focusing on Upstate.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.