Greyhound soccer debuts in national rankings at No. 17

Freedom New Mexico: Liliana Castillo ENMU senior forward Emerson Rodrigues heads the ball away in a battle with West Texas A&M Nicki Nielsen during a match on Sept. 17 at the ENMU pitch. The Greyhounds made their first appearance in the NCAA Division II national poll this week with a No. 17 ranking.

Freedom New Mexico

PORTALES — For the first time in the history of the program, the Eastern New Mexico University men’s soccer team is ranked in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America/ NCAA Division II poll.

ENMU (7-1), currently on a school-record five-match winning streak, moved into the rankings in a tie for 17th place with Gannon (Pa.) in a wild week which saw the top two teams from last week, Cal State-Los Angeles and ENMU’s Lone Star Conference rival Midwestern State, left out of the rankings.

The MSU website said the reason for the Mustangs (6-0) being left out was “a snafu associated with a payment of dues.” Midwestern, ranked No. 2 last week, likely would have moved up since Cal State-Los Angeles lost twice last week.

The website said the Mustangs will be eligible to return to the rankings next week.

“Yeah, I am surprised (to be ranked),” third-year ENMU coach Harold Munoz said. “But it’s very nice; it’s taken a couple of years of hard work to get to this point.”

ENMU is also ranked No. 2 in the South Central regional poll (sans MSU as well), behind Incarnate Word. The Hounds host the Cardinals in a 4 p.m. start on Friday at the ENMU pitch.

The Hounds are on pace to set school records for goals scored per game (3.12) and goals allowed (0.86).

Senior forward Emerson Rodrigues has netted a team-high seven goals, while sophomore Kal Herbert has five goals and five assists. Freshman goalkeeper Orlando Rodriguez has a 0.78 goals against average along with a 4-1 record.

“We have a great challenge this weekend in Incarnate Word,” Munoz said. “They have an outstanding team, but I think we’re going to be ready.”