HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Following a season which featured a 16-3-2 record, SSAC regular season and conference tournament titles, and a run to the Elite 8 of the NAIA National Tournament, the expectations were high for William Carey men's soccer entering 2017.
Yet, the Crusaders have managed to exceed those expectations.
Ranked No. 1 in the NAIA for most of the season, William Carey (15-0) repeated as SSAC regular season champs and hopes to defend its 2017 SSAC Soccer Championship. The Crusaders open at home against Brewton-Parker College (4-12-1) on Friday at 5:00 p.m.
"We're having a pretty good year but can't look too far ahead," said William Carey senior goalkeeper Grant Adam, a Waveland native. "Take it day by day. Every morning wake up and be positive."
William Carey has never won a NAIA National Championship. Although, the Crusaders have advanced deep into the tournament, making the Final Four in 2001.
Carey head coach Barry Farrell was a freshman forward on that '01 club. The 2016 SSAC Coach of the Year knows what it takes to make a run in the postseason but also knows the Crusaders need to take it one game at a time.
"We didn't plan to be number one team in the nation but we wanted to win the regular season championship," Farrell said. "We wanted to repeat, win the conference tournament and then take it to the next level after that. But we gotta take care of business tomorrow first."
Prior to the Crusaders match on Friday, the No. 4 William Carey women's soccer team hosts Dalton State University in the first round of the SSAC tournament at 2:30 p.m.
The Lady Crusaders (14-1) suffered their first loss of the season on October 28 against Mobile. Head coach Danny Owens and company hope to bounce back and defend their 2016 SSAC title this weekend.