The WIU’s Men’s Soccer team is going through some challenges this season, but the team finds ways to stay motivated, enthusiastic, and passionate about the game. Head Coach Eric Johnson explained why this season has been more arduous than others. Johnson said the season is not going as well as he had hoped it would due to the multiple injuries among many players. “We have a young team, and when we add injuries to it, it makes it more difficult,” Johnson began. “We’re on the right track and still have an opportunity to make the post-season tournament, but we have to win our last two home-games,” he said.
With players suffering broken bones, ligament damage, and another with a quadricep injury, Coach Johnson reminds players that like life, adversities will come your way. “The game, just like life, can change in a moment. Whether you think tomorrow’s going to arrive and everything will be all right, something might come up,” Johnson said.
Many of the younger players, including eight freshmen who are playing college soccer for the first time, are taking on a bigger role on the field. Johnson explained the freshmen might not realize that they are ready. “When you have a team that works together all the time and then you introduce new players, the [playing style] is interrupted because you have to learn everybody’s style,” Johnson said.
Although they’ve experienced challenges, the team continues to work hard each and every day. “The freshmen have learned quite a bit,” Johnson began, “The expectations that we set for the team will be easier for them [next season]. With all these new responsibilities that are being thrown at them right now, they can fall behind. So for next year, those freshmen guys will be better at that.”
To boost confidence and keep up morale, Johnson says what the team really needs is a win. “You get confidence from success. You have to experience success to gain confidence. If we can win, it’ll be very rewarding,” Johnson stressed. “The players who are out still show up for practice, and I’m sure they’re talking to their teammates on how they can improve. Their presence alone shows they still care. It’s very encouraging for the other guys,” he said.
Tomorrow, October 27, WIU’s Leatherneck’s will face Oral Roberts, a team WIU outscored last year. “We beat them last year which let us go to the NCAA tournament. It’s a home game, so that’s really good. We need a win, and so does [Oral Roberts], so I think it will be a really good game,” Johnson explained. “We’re on the right track and still have an opportunity to make the post-season tournament, but we have to win our last two home games. Saturday is a big game for us, and that’ll erase a lot of the negative,” Johnson emphasized.
The Fighting Leathernecks next three games will be on WIU’s turf. You can come out and give your support for WIU’s men’s soccer team! Saturday’s game begins at 1 p.m. A week later, on Saturday, November 3, WIU will face Kansas City at 1 p.m., and on Sunday, November 4, they will face Belmont at 1 p.m. You can visit the men’s soccer page at http://www.goleathernecks.com/SportSelect.dbml?&DB_OEM_ID=12000&SPID=4941&SPSID=49917. Let’s Go ‘Necks!