Men’s soccer kicks off season with new coach

For the Quakers’ men’s soccer team, last season is over and done with. This year is about starting fresh.

This season, new head coach Cory Speed was introduced to the soccer team this season a week before soccer reported for camp, and his presence has already lifted the team’s overall morale.

“Coach Speed has been making us a better team than in past years,” said sophomore midfielder Brayden Currin. “He works around the players he has and does not try to stick to one way of doing things.”

Coach Speed comes to Guilford College from Virginia Tech, where he was an assistant coach last season, and he believes in the excitement of the team.

“There’s a lot of fresh energy,” said Speed. “Although there’s uncertainty with a new coach, a lot of the guys showed excitement with being able to fulfill new roles. The guys have bought in and are hungry.”

The positive mentality the team shows is displayed by their work ethic and chemistry on the field.

“We enjoy being around each other,” said senior forward Christian Torres. “Coach Speed knows how to work with us and has made an immediate impact.”

Speed was quickly able to earn the respect of the players despite the quick turnaround.

“He earned our respect by respecting us,” said sophomore midfielder Dylan James. “He didn’t come in and try to put his foot down on us. Coach Speed believes strongly in mutual respect.”

Despite the big changes at the end of the summer and the addition of seven first-years, team chemistry is as strong as ever.

“We had a great spring season which was a big mental boost for us,” said Currin. “We are pretty close as a team, and the first-years have fit right in.”

Two of the first-year players, Enrique Gudino De Grote and Ricky Aguilar, have already scored goals for the Quakers this season.

“The first-years have adapted well to the speed of play,” said Speed. “They are fitting in very well both on and off the field.”

There are also three new captains replacing the senior captains lost from last year. Senior goalkeeper Eric Hayes, senior forward Mark Dandanell and junior midfielder Ian Skarring lead this year’s team.

“(The new captains) set the right examples,” said Currin. “They are relatable to us, which is a huge factor. You don’t want to feel like you’re talking to the coach’s right-hand man.”

A lot of the team’s focus this season will be on mentality, consistency and taking games one at a time. In their minds, they can beat anyone as long as they do not make mental errors or get complacent and allow another team to have opportunities.

“When we have mental lapses, that’s when mistakes are made,” said Torres. “When things don’t go well, we tend to break down and blame each other. We can still work on that part of our chemistry.”

Going along with this, Speed believes the team can improve most with their defense, making plays in transition and making sure they do not turn the ball over in bad positions.

However, the team has shown very strong play to start the season. They won their first two matchups with Piedmont College and LaGrange College from Georgia with scores of 4-2 and 5-1 respectively.

Conference play begins Sept. 28 where they host Lynchburg College at Appenzeller Field.

“ I want to win every game,” said Speed. “Anytime we play anyone in the (Old Dominion Athletic Conference), it’s a big game.

“These (upcoming) conference matchups will be big for us.”

 

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