It’s a wrap on the first men’s soccer season in UTRGV history after the Houston Baptist University Huskies defeated the Vaqueros 2-1 at home today.
The in-state conference opponents represented the last date of the campaign for UTRGV.
Before the match, the lone senior on the roster, Archie Massen, was honored with a ceremony. Massen is one of three players who were a part of the first Vaquero team after playing for legacy institution UT-Brownsville.
The Lincoln, England, native spent a year with the program but was able to be a part of laying the foundation going forward.
“It’s a great honor for me to be in the first-year of the program. It’s gonna be a good program and this is just the starting of it,” the 5-foot-10-inch senior said. “The growth since the first game has been massive. The experience we have gained from these games has been very vital and that’s going to help a lot for the next season.”
In this final game of the season the opposition was solid. The visiting Huskies came into the RGV already having their spot in the WAC tournament clinched. During their WAC season, HBU was able to find ways to win against some of the league’s top teams, including Seattle University and Utah Valley. Though it was a tough game the Vaqueros were still able to earn stay within striking distance.
Houston Baptist struck first 9:18 into the match with a goal inside the box from No. 18 George Kelley after he was able to control the ball off his chest and finish with the right-footed shot.
The rest of the half the home side was able to keep HBU from extending its lead.
Next tally of the game came from the Huskies again in half two. Kelley, the first goal scorer, was assisting this time following his steal of the ball. Thilo Borgmann tucked the second for HBU.
After that it was the Archie Massen show. His team looked to give him touches often and the team captain made the most of these moments. He received many balls on the right side of the field, allowing the defensive midfielder to control the pace. A lot of the offense came from that side of play during the course of the game.
At the 61:38 minute mark it was Massen whose centering ball into the box found its way into the back of the net completely untouched, despite many bodies and legs vying for a deflection. Carlos Acevedo and Rico Laitinen were credited with the helpers.
“I was putting it in the mixer hoping to get someone on the end of it. If it went all the way from me I’m happy, I’ll take the goal obviously on my senior day,” Massen, the former UTB standout, said. “It was special for me on this day. It was a good feeling to get the ball and get a lot of the action.”
UTRGV was not able to get the equalizer after pushing hard for the remainder of the match. The Vaqueros shot the ball six times in the second frame, with two coming on goal. Chance Pope, HBU goaltender, and his entire defensive line was up to the challenge, securing the win and moving forward to postseason play now.
After the match Head Coach Paul Leese spoke on his first-year club and how much growth Vaquero soccer has undergone.
“In the second half of the season the guys were on the same page and understood what we were trying to do collectively,” Leese said. “We were playing some very good soccer and having some of our best performances. It was frustrating today we weren’t able to bring out that performance and I think maybe some guys may have switched off before the end of the final whistle.”
Leese also weighed in on the play of Massen, not only in his last game but his play the whole year.
“Archie has done that all season long. He’s grown as well and found his role on the team and found how to play within that team structure,” Leese said about the player who finished his college career. “His game today was excellent as it has been throughout almost the entire season. So again when you talk about not having the team performance that we should have had it’s disappointing not only for the team as a whole but also for Archie.”
The Vaqueros end the season with an overall record of 5-12-1. Their WAC record will end at 2-8-0.