The fourth year head coach of the Arkansas State soccer team watched his team secure their second straight winning season yesterday on Senior Day at the ASU Soccer Park. That's the first time that's ever happened in the 14-year history of Red Wolf soccer.
Part of the reason for "Coach Z's" big smile started on Friday afternoon, when A-State hosted Sun Belt Conference league-leading and previously unbeaten (in conference play) Western Kentucky. All the Red Wolves did was send the Hilltoppers packing with a 3-0 loss. It was ASU's first-ever win over WKU in the sport. But Ziyenge's team had little time to celebrate, because another important conference match with Georgia State loomed only 48 hours later.
"We invested so much emotion into Friday's game against Western Kentucky that my biggest fear was we'd have a hangover from that victory, and we wouldn't do a good enough job of preparing for an equally dangerous Georgia State team," said the ASU coach.
But as it turned out, his team had enough fire and energy left to eke out a hard-fought 3-2 overtime win over GSU, with sophomore Loren Mitchell providing the winning goal, her eleventh for the season and the second-most in school history.
The two victories improved the Red Wolves to 9-6-2 on the year and 4-3 in SBC play, and wrapped up their home slate with a very impressive 7-1-1 mark. The team will finish out the regular season next weekend with a Sunday afternoon game at Texas State, a squad that Ziyenge says defends its home turf as well as his own.
"Our main worry right now is, how do we get past a Texas State team which is stubborn at home! Texas State reminds me of Arkansas State in Jonesboro."
Texas State's campus will also host the SBC post-season tournament November 6-10. Arkansas State has already qualified for the tournament, and Ziyenge said his team will be seeded anywhere between third and seventh.
Randy Myers is the co-host of AstAteNation Radio. The program airs Monday-Friday from 11-1 on The Ticket 970am/95.3fm and on the web at 953theticket.com.