Brothers showcase talent in Southern midfield

Kim DeRaedt

While the win column remains empty as the Lions hit the mid-season mark, one doesn’t have to look very far to see that the team is full of camaraderie.

There’s no better example of this brotherhood than that shared by Austin and Ryan Whiles.

The brothers hail from Overland Park, Kansas, where they were both second-team All-State selections at Olathe East High School.

Now Austin, a senior, and Ryan, a freshman, are showcasing their talents in the Southern midfield.

“This is the first time that we have been on the same team,” Ryan said. “It is memorable because it’s Austin’s last season.”

There’s no doubt Austin was looking to make this season even more memorable as he led the Lions on a grueling road trip this past weekend.

Southern managed to salvage its first tie when it battled Eastern New Mexico to a 0-0 draw.

Jon Hansen tallied three saves to preserve the shutout, and Austin Whiles led the team with three shots.

The upset-minded Lions then boarded the bus to take on West Texas A&M, a team that is currently ranked 14th in the nation.

Southern remained alive at halftime with the score knotted at 0-0 before seeing its hopes fade in the second half as the team was handed a 2-0 defeat.

Although the Lions were unable to clinch a win, they held their own against formidable competition. Perhaps this is only a glimpse of good things to come for a squad that boasts 13 freshmen.

“The freshman class brings passion and energy to the team,” Ryan said.

Still the leadership of the upperclassmen cannot be overlooked.

“Austin brings energy, dedication, and the desire to win,” Ryan said. ” He loves the game and loves to represent the team.”

Even though Austin is unquestionably a great role model, Ryan explains that taking orders from him is nevertheless difficult.

Ryan just might have to listen to his big brother’s advice, however, as the Lions’ season isn’t going to get any easier.

Southern hosts Newman University Saturday before trekking to Missouri S&T on Oct. 2.

From there, they will round out the season with five straight conference matchups.

“We have nothing to lose,” Ryan said. “We can only go up from here. It’s a matter of doing the small things right and maintaining a positive attitude.”