By Bridgette Montgomery
The Bluffton men’s soccer team is powering its way through a season focused on rebuilding. With many of the players experiencing their first year of collegiate soccer, they have a few upperclassmen on their side to them help out. Coming off a 3-0 win against Franklin Oct. 7, the team is looking to improve on their 1-10 record (1-2 in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference). Their next game is at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at home against Mount Saint Joseph.
“Having more than 20 freshman and only a few upperclassman makes it tough for a team because of the lack of experienced players,” said James Kusak, the Bluffton men’s head soccer coach. “But, our first-year players have stepped up in a big way and are taking on leadership roles within the group. We have a freshman army out there, and I love it!”
Even though the start of the season did not go as expected for the team, they still have team motivation to make them better.
“This year is a big focus on rebuilding,” said Alex Foster, a freshman on the Bluffton men’s soccer team. “We are working hard everyday to improve ourselves individually and as a team to try and put forth the best effort we can at game time.”
The team’s strategies for motivation before games include individual and team motivation.
“I try my best to motivate each player on an individual level, as well as motivating the entire team as a group,” said Kusak.
Kusak informs the players of what he expects from them on game day, as individuals and as a team. In every game their goal is to give 100 percent effort all the time, he said.
“We need to sure up a few things on the field,” said Kusak. “I have been telling the boys that scoring the first goal is going to be a big moment for us.”
The team claims they need to make a few changes.
“Communicating on the field is an skill we need to improve on, and I feel like we are working on it,” said Foster. “But, you have to build things from the ground up in order to have it stand.”
The team’s bonding and connection is strong with the coach. Kusak said he loves his team and each individual player.
“The morale of the group is still strong, and I have to credit the resiliency of the boys,” said Kusak. “Nothing in life is easy, and this season has had its difficult moments.”
The team is gaining knowledge as a whole as the season goes by.
“I really think the Defiance game [was] a turning point for us,” said Kusak. “I think the ‘lightbulb’ turned on for a lot of guys and that will inspire us to continue battling as we move forward.”
Some teams might have a most valuable player, but not the Bluffton men’s soccer team. They claim it is a team effort.
“We are a team, and it’s a team sport–there is no individual MVP,” said Foster.