Drury Panthers Return To National Polls

shane-woods-drury-panthersVia DruryPanthers.com – Off to a 6-1-1 start to the season, the Drury men’s soccer Panthers cracked the national Top 25 for the first time in three seasons when they made their debut at No. 19 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll released Tuesday.

Coach Ryan Swan’s Panthers were fueled into the poll by a 2-2, double-overtime draw on Sunday at No. 9 and unbeaten Quincy, which jumped to No. 6 nationally in this week’s poll. Drury is also No. 3 in the NSCAA Midwest Regional rankings, trailing only Quincy and Saginaw Valley State.

Drury is led in scoring by freshman Shane Woods (Kearney, pictured at right), with 5 goals and 4 assists from eight games. He’s started every game this season and has one game-winning goal, scored against Southwest Baptist Labor Day weekend.

Only one of those goals has come in conference play, a late score at the University of Indianapolis in a 3-1 win. He’ll become an impact player when he begins scoring against GLVC opponents. At Kearney he had 54 goals his senior year and 114 total (the Missouri record is 138, set last week). He was featured recently on the Panther’s website, check out the former Sporting KC Academy player who is being compared favorably to the Panther’s #2 all-time scoring leader, Steve Wilczewski (Glendale).

The more interesting story for me is the production that Coach Swan is getting from juniors like Mike Yuede (St Dominic) and Matt Hutchinson (CBC), who each have four goals while Yuede has one assist and Hutch three. With only one senior (Nicholas Fish) it is the Juniors who are providing the leadership. Yuede, who started in 22 games his first two years at Drury, is now coming off the bench exclusively while Hutchinson has five starts and is on track to match his team-leading six goals from 2011.

The team is led from the back by Jr Captain and central defender Adam Heiligenstein (Hazelwood West) who partners with So. Eric Heet (Chaminade) in martialing a unit that has given up only 4 goals in 8 games, two of which came in last weeks tie at Quincy. Freshman starters include GK Blake Andrews, Woods and midfielder Matt Clarkin (CBC) while Sophomores Scott Stiffler (St Dominic) and Jack Mathis (CBC) are at midfield, joined by Ryan Haas (Holt) and Mike Lee (CBC) on defense. Junior Brendan Langford (Texas), a defensive midfielder, rounds out the 10 regular starters.

The Panthers, 4-1-1 in league play, return to action this weekend at Harrison Stadium/The Curry Sports Complex, playing host to Maryville at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Missouri-St. Louis at 2:30 p.m. Sunday in Great Lakes Valley Conference matches. The latter will be televised by Mediacom Connections 22.