San Antonio – If the St. Mary’s men’s soccer players believe at all in the power of symbolism, they certainly have plenty of reason to feel good about the upcoming season.

Minutes into their first fall practice, the guys took a fitness-test jog around the field. The result? Well, suffice it to say a “team” was already being formed.

“They all ran together, as a group,” said coach Que Willis, now in his ninth year leading the program. “It really says a lot, not leaving each other behind. Start together and finish together. That’s our attitude.”

The Rattlers hope that attitude pays dividends in their pursuit of the Heartland Conference crown, a race in which they start out of the gate pegged No. 3 in the league.

St. Mary’s was picked third in the Heartland Conference preseason poll, as voted on this week by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors.

St. Mary’s finished fourth in the Heartland a year ago, going 2-6 in league competition and 4-13 overall.

The Rattlers open the season at 2:30 p.m. Thursday against the University of Houston-Victoria at their home-away-from-home for the 2011 season, the Northside ISD Soccer Field.

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