by Amber Hudson
The University of Northwestern men’s soccer team has been defeated early this season but has high hopes for what is to come. Only 23 players make up the men’s soccer team this year, a complication they are working to overcome.
Team co-captain and senior Matt Flanders said, “Having less players makes it difficult in the sense of maintaining depth on the field, but it also allows us to grow as a cohesive team, as friends and as brothers in Christ.”
During the first game of the season, not only was the number of players a challenge, but the sprinklers seemed to be another obstacle the team had to face. The sprinklers of UNW, well-known to students, made an untimely appearance. The team trotted off the field until the sprinklers were turned off, and then continued with only a couple minutes of delay.
The Eagles have also been battling the injuries early this season. Team co-captain and senior Joshua Wright expressed his feelings towards injuries: “Yes, it has been a rough start to the season with multiple key players being injured. Unfortunately, I am one of those currently injured. I have a stress fracture on my left fibula (shin), but thus far it has not significantly interfered with my playing ability. I am taking some time away from practices so that it will have a chance to heal, but I will be back on the pitch for our first conference game”.
Although the team has been working through many challenges, the team seems to be hopeful about improving overall in the conference. Sophomore Mark Habeck said, “We don’t have as many returners as we were hoping to have. However, we are looking to be very successful in conference this year once we can fix a few minor details with our teamwork as a whole.”
Wright stated, “I expect great things from the squad this season. Our group is pretty young, but what we lack in experience we make up for in tenacity. We have a combination of talent and heart that has potential to win us some big games this year. We’ve been ranked third in conference; I’m hoping we can exceed that expectation by focusing on working well as a unit. We have a lot of individually skilled players that work very well together.”
All competitiveness aside, the men of the soccer team have memories and a bond that cannot be shaken.
“With this being my last year, I am looking forward to simply enjoying every part of my last season. Whether it is at a home game, on bus rides, or at team dinners, I want to enjoy being a part of this team for one last time. My favorite part of being on the soccer team has been building friendships with guys that will far outlast the days I play soccer. Some of my best friends have come from playing soccer at Northwestern,” mentioned team co-captain senior Robbie Denniston.
Flanders said, “As captains, we hope to communicate efficiently both on and off the field to help the younger players grow as Christian men, student-athletes and soccer players.”