Three years ago when Reece Hannigan stepped onto the campus at the University of Houston-Victoria his goal was to bring the Jaguars' men's soccer team a conference championship.
That goal and those expectations have not changed for the senior from London, England, who enters his finally year with the Jaguars.
"When I first committed to UHV in the spring of 2014 the program was still relatively new and had only been running for four years," said Hannigan. "This was one of the main reasons I decided to commit to UHV, as one of my clear visions was to become an established player within the UHV soccer program and help the program grow year after year, with my main goal being, becoming part of the first UHV soccer team to win a conference title."
Hannigan has done his share over the last three seasons to try and help the Jaguars achieve those goals, only to see his team come up short each time.
The Jaguars dropped a heartbreaking 2-1 decision to 12th-ranked Georgia Gwinnett in the Association of Independent Institutions Conference championship to finish the year at 10-5-2 in his first season.
The following year, the Jaguars dropped a 1-0 decision to the University of St. Thomas-Houston in the semifinals of the Red River Athletic Conference to finish the year with a 12-4-1 record.
Last year the Jaguars again came up short in the semifinals of the RRAC Championships falling 1-0 to Wiley College to go 10-7-1.
"Within the last three years, I feel I've developed as a player and as a person, becoming the captain of the team, which has given me the opportunity to succeed in my visions," Hannigan said. "However, my main goal of winning the conference hasn't changed as the conference title has escaped me and the team for the last three years. So, my main individual goal, which I know aligns with every member of the team, is to become champions of men's soccer in the Red River Conference in 2017."
Hannigan has been named the RRAC defensive Player of the Year and first team all-conference for the last two seasons, and was an all-region second team pick in 2015. As a freshman he was named to the A.i.i. all-conference second team.
Hannigan and his teammates report for preseason drills on August 14 and the 6-foot-4 defender knows it will take a total team effort for the Jaguars to clear the hurdle that has been their Achilles' Heel the last two seasons.
"The whole is greater than the sum of its part," said Hannigan. "This is what our team needs to focus on in my opinion to reach the next level. Meaning our team has many individuals who excel in certain aspects of soccer. Therefore, if we're able to combine all the team's talents together and have a high team spirit we will be dangerous against any team we face.
"In the last three years I've been here we've fallen just short each year, I believe this has been the case not because of a lack of talent but through the team not combining together within crucial games. Therefore, when the team joins up for preseason this year my main focus will be to get the team pushing each other through their pain barriers and prove to each other when we come together on the field we can perform to a higher level than if we try individually."
Hannigan hasn't only done his job defensively for the Jaguars, but has also becoming a scoring threat when called upon. He has tallied 15 goals and one assist with four game-winning goals over 49 games in three seasons.
With the success he has found on the field the last three seasons, he hopes he can focus just as well off the field this year in helping his teammates.
"Going into my senior year of being a captain, one of the main things I'd like to bring to the team this year is strong leadership," said Hannigan. "On the field leadership is a given but off the field I'd like to focus on helping the team with soccer/class work related advice/issues, especially for my freshmen teammates. I say this because in my freshman year, Jordan (Wright), who was a senior, helped me much more than I realized at the time.
"Also, I'd like to set an example for the team in how determined we need to be to bring success to the UHV soccer program. Therefore, I want to show the team how we need to come together as a group and have everyone put 100 percent of our efforts in every time we train and play."
Hannigan and the Jaguars begin preseason workouts on August 15 and then host Texas A&M-International (Aug. 19) and Concordia-Austin (Aug. 26) in scrimmages, before opening the regular season by hosting William Carey, who finished last season ranked No. 9, in a 4 p.m. match on Sept. 2.