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 fights through adversity to end

For a men’s soccer team that has played, and lost, in four different overtime games this season, the year has turned into an arduous slog. The team currently holds an 8-9 record overall (4-7 in the Northwest Conference). They have been forced to struggle with a wide array of injuries, horrible luck and, at times, a lack of trust of each other.

Before a win last week against Walla Walla University, they had lost three straight games and four of their last five. Their remaining schedule consists of five straight conference games, including matches against second-place Willamette and third-place Whitworth to end the season.

Despite this, the team believes it is better than it has shown so far. Junior defender Isaac Sappington says they have not played up to their potential.

“I feel like we have a lot more talent than we’ve achieved,” said Sappington.

The team’s problems have stemmed from a combination of bad luck, poor play and adjustments necessitated by injuries.

The team was hamstrung from the start of the year after sophomore midfielder Sam Perkins left the team over the summer due to repeated concussions. Leading scorer sophomoreAlex Barsher and senior Thomas Motzer have also gone down this season with concussions, leaving the team short-handed.

In their absence, Head Men’s Soccer Coach Mike Washington says several younger players have stepped up and several players have had to play out of position.

“It’s not something we want to throw them into, but to be honest with you, we’ve had to and they’ve responded really, really well,” said Washington.

The team also pointed to a few badly-timed penalties as a cause for some of their problems. Against Pacific Lutheran University last week, an early red card left the Missionaries down a man for most of the match. They still managed to keep the Lutes’ attack at bay, only losing 2-0.

“I felt that we outplayed them, being down a man, but it’s just hard to come back from situations like that,” said Sappington.

They also allowed a goal on a penalty kick in the second minute against third-in-conference University of Puget Sound, which set them back all game in the 3-0 loss.

The team does not chalk all of their struggles up to luck and health. They have also had trust issues, which forced them to hold a recent team meeting to discuss how to improve.

“We had a lack of trust, and when the going got tough we didn’t trust each other enough,” said senior captain Logan Grime.

Sappington agrees that trust has been a problem.

“Playing soccer can definitely be high-stress, especially when you drop three straight … We met as a team, just sorted things out, made sure we were all on the same page moving forward. I think it was really helpful to build our confidence as a team and to build that trust,” said Sappington.

Although the season is nearly over, the team is determined to finish the year strong.

“We’ve got enough talent. It’s just about finding that game that we can bust open and play well,” said Washington.

Last weekend the team beat George Fox University and lost to Pacific University by one goal in overtime. Washington says he was pleased with the team’s showing.

“I thought over the weekend the performance was better in the fact that our play was sharper, passing was better and our overall shape during the games improved. Sunday’s loss was more about finishing the chances we created,” he said.

Grime says that as captain, it is his job to make sure the team continues to compete despite the disappointing season.

“We are a little disappointed in how it went, but as a senior I don’t want guys to give up on the season,” he said.

“Going in we had high expectations, and now that we’ve dropped a few games, the pressure’s a little off of us. So now we can just go and play our game and maybe crush some teams’ hopes of winning conference.”

Washington says that the team has a promising future, with several underclassmen having impressive seasons.

“The future looks bright. While we want to concentrate on this season, having games like that [against Walla Walla University, a team they’ve defeated twice] gives us a chance to look at some of our players in the years coming, too,” said Washington, noting that this year’s class of first-years is particularly strong.

Despite the disappointing season, the soccer team sees encouraging signs and is resolved to finish strong.

Ben Freedman (2018) dribbles the ball.
Ben Freedman (2018) dribbles the ball.














Photo by Hannah Bashevkin.
Photo by Hannah Bashevkin.
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