The men’s soccer team rebounded from a tough MVC-opening loss to Drake with a convincing 5-2 win over Loyola last Saturday. This week, they host Missouri State in another tough Valley contest.
I talked with head coach Mike Jacobs, sophomore Mark Anthony Gonzalez, and junior Dylan Terry this week about the win at Loyola and tonight’s game vs. the Bears.
Q: How important was the win at Loyola?
Gonzalez: “It’s huge to get a win in the Missouri valley Conference, especially on the road. Road games are obviously challenging, and for us to come back and score five goals, it was great.”
Terry: “Definitely is, especially rebounding from that drake loss, getting that conference win on the road is big. Coach told us remember the second half and come out firing, and we got four goals and put ‘em away.”
Jacobs: “Getting on the board in the Valley is important. I know it’s coach speak to talk about every game’s important, focus on the next game, but obviously the Valley games mean more. Our hope is we get into position to compete for an at-large bid, but our hope is everything is focused on the Valley.”
Q: 14 players on the team have scored, 17 have tallied points — do you think that speaks to the depth of the team?
Gonzalez: “Everybody’s putting into this team. I believe 19 or 18 different players have started, and obviously everybody getting goals and points.”
Terry: “We don’t tire. We have 19, 20 guys who start, play good minutes. We have depth where we can just keep running at people. As long as our season goes, we’re going to keep doing it.”
Jacobs: “We talked all year about the depth of our attacking players. Each game we’ve played well in, we’ve worn the other team down with not only the quality of our attacking players, but the quality as well. It probably makes us harder to game plan for, as well. When you can bring someone like Nick (Schroeder) in like that after we’ve already worn a team down like that, what a tremendous testament to the quality within our team. It makes training sessions awesome. This is the most fun I’ve had coaching in 20 years because every practice, guys are fighting — fighting for chances to play, fighting for chances to be in the starting lineup.”
Q: You go down 1-0 and 2-1 to Loyola early in both halves. How do you prevent something like that in the future?
Gonzalez: “Just starting off the way we end games. By the end of the game, we’re fully focused. We need to start games with the same energy, same focus.”
Terry: “I think so much is mental, just focusing on being tough and coming out firing right from the whistle as opposed to having to rebound.”
Jacobs: “We have to be focused and committed to start games. To play in Valley games, you have to be tough mentally as well as strong physically. For us, we just have to make sure we’re just tough when we start games. It takes 90 minutes to win a game, and one poor choice to lose it. And for us we just need to be consistent enough to put together a full 90 minutes.”
Q: What’s the key to this next game vs. Missouri State?
Terry: “Coach says our most important game of the season is the next one. We have Missouri State at home, they’re 2-0 in conference. If we get a strong result this weekend, we can really build momentum and we’ll be 2-1, top of our conference.”
Jacobs: “Missouri State’s a huge game. They’ve been a rival of ours; they’ve been a bogey team for our coaching staff since we’ve been here. They’re a team I use as a measuring stick, because they’re always very well prepared. They’re the prototypical American college team — they roll their sleeves up, fight and compete. They know how to battle. They will grind the game out for 90 minutes. This is one of those games where our guys will have to be really up to the test, because we’re going to have to play from the opening kickoff until the last whistle. They’re not a team you can knock out with one punch.”