Men’s Soccer: looking to make a statement in the ODAC
September 15, 2011
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Let’s rewind to last year. The men’s soccer team finished the season with 10 wins, six losses, and three ties. The Quakers lost in the quarterfinals to Randolph College in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) tournament. Now, let’s return to the present, where the team looks to break out and have a special season in 2011, and to take care of unfinished business.
“The ultimate goal is to win the ODAC this year,” said Head Coach Jeff Bateson. “In order to have a successful season we have to learn about the game of soccer, compete in every game, and enjoy the camaraderie of the team.”
Currently, the team has one win, one loss, and one tie in three non-conference games played. That record doesn’t illustrate how the players are learning and growing as a team.
“There have been only a few games, but it’s easy to tell that our team is understanding and applying what Coach Bateson is telling us,” said junior midfielder Richard Page. “The team is adjusting to changes in style well so far.”
The adjustment period has gone well for the Quakers because they have leadership roles filled by proven upperclassmen. The team has veteran players that can bring the first-years comfortably into the system of play.
“We’re a great group, a fully mature team that has talented and experienced players,” said senior midfielder Kereith Pinnock. “We have a lot of returning guys and a good first-year class of players. We just need to keep the hard work going and communicate to have a real team effort.”
Besides having experience and team chemistry, the team has attitude. Not the boisterous, “we’re the best” attitude, but the quiet, calm attitude the great teams have. The one where they let their game on the field do the talking.
“We’ll be in the first four of the ODAC at the end of the season,” said junior Freddy Gomez. “It won’t be easy and it will be tons of hard work, but it’s possible.”
When I asked Coach Bateson to describe this year’s team, he said one word. Driven.
“This group of players have camaraderie and a good sense of what a team should be: humble off the field, but bulldogs on the field,” said Bateson.
This season will not be a walk in the park however. The Quaker’s were picked to finish sixth in the ODAC, in the annual pre-season poll. The conference is stacked with talented teams including defending champion Lynchburg College and Virginia Wesleyan.
”The poll is motivation for us as a team,” said Pinnock. “It drives us to go out on the field and prove the critics wrong, and beat the teams ahead of us.”
Going into conference play, Guilford will be the underdog, and they are perfectly fine with that. The Quakers have lots of indicators pointing in the right direction; they just need to prove it on the field.
”I’m excited to see how well we play up to our potential,” said Page. “There’s no doubt the skill is there, but we have to have a strong mental game that lasts the season. Mix that with our talent and it could definitely be a year to remember.”
For Bateson, this year is about the seniors finishing what they started.