Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Men’s Soccer Bounces Back After Rough Preseason

With a 0-1-4 record after their first five games, it’s safe to say that the Whitman men’s soccer team was off to a rough start. Despite a talented roster and a month of playing in England prior to preseason, games were not coming together as they had hoped.

However, with continued determination and dedication, the Missionaries have fought their way back. Undefeated after their first two weeks of conference play, the men are looking to make the most of the rest of the season.

The team started preseason with a trip to Colorado, taking on Colorado College and the University of Texas at Dallas. While they took Colorado College to a double overtime that ended in a scoreless tie, they ended the trip with a 5-0 loss to UT Dallas. Unfortunately, this losing streak continued. On the next road trip, Whitman fell to Northwest University, Carthage College and Trinity Lutheran College while dealing with long hours traveling back and forth between Washington and Oregon. However, the team did their best to look past the losses and use the preseason as a learning experience.

“We have preseason for a reason. It is a time for us to evaluate ourselves as a team in terms of strength and weaknesses. So even with the losses we always kept a positive mindset,” said junior midfielder Jose Beleche.

Sophomore teammate Kyle Flannery feels the team didn’t panic because the players always had their eyes on the conference season.

“We weren’t concerned with preseason too much. The regular season is what it’s all about, and we knew we’d be ready,” said Flannery.

The team’s positive morale despite the rough start has carried the team through preseason and into conference play. The first two weeks of conference brought huge success to the Missionaries, who are unbeaten after facing off against Willamette University, Linfield College, Pacific University and George Fox University. Despite a strong showing against the Willamette Bearcats, they came away with a scoreless tie after double overtime in the first NWC season game. But the men were finally able to find the back of net the following match against Linfield, posting a 3-2 win against the Wildcats after an exciting second half comeback. Since then, the Missionaries have not faltered, easily beating both Pacific and George Fox at home.

“It’s boosted our confidence a bit. We’ve really come together as a team,” said Flannery after the first weekend of conference play.

But the men are nowhere close to done. While they have definitely celebrated the success in the opening weekend of conference play, they realize that there are still plenty of games ahead of them. Last year, the team finished fifth in the Northwest Conference. This year, they look to do even more.

“Every season comes with a lot of potential and high hopes,” said sophomore defender Isaac Sappington. “Last year we had a really talented team, as well as this year. It’s just a matter of putting what we have together to push for a good finish.”

With solid talent and depth at each position, the team looks to improve their record, improve their play and remain a front runner in the Northwest Conference. In upcoming practices and games, the men look to improve their offensive play, continue to learn team structure and formation and keep up the positive mindset that has carried them through the season so far.

“We are looking for more goals, more wins and hopefully our first conference title,” said Beleche as he looks toward the continuation of season play.

For leadership this year, the men look toward senior forward Chris Perkins, senior defender Reid Shaw and senior midfielder Junpei Tsuji. The three seniors are this year’s captains. As returning players with significant playing experience, they look to end their senior year with an NWC title, but are also focused on being successful leaders for their team.

“We find a lot of leadership in our captains, who have been great at motivating the team to have a common goal,” said Sappington.

But one of the great aspects of the men’s soccer team is their ability for leadership all over the field.

“We have a number of really talented players this year that we feel we can trust to lead the team when they need to. Our keepers have been making lots of great saves to keep us in games. Our back line has been solid and stingy, and our midfielders are probably among the most technically talented in the league, and we have a lot of forwards who have been contributing to a potent offense,” said Sappington.

This talent and leadership has propelled Whitman to a strong start in conference and will hopefully help the team as they continue to face tough NWC competition.

Up next, the Missionaries travel to Tacoma, Wash. to take on University of Puget Sound on Saturday, Oct. 5 and Pacific Lutheran University on Sunday, Oct. 6.

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