The men’s soccer team is now two games into their 19-game season after traveling to Wheaton College in Illinois. The team came up short on Friday, Aug. 30, losing 5-0 and again Saturday, Aug. 31, 1-0.
Prior to the fall season starting, the Tigers went abroad and spent a few days in England, gained 25 freshman and gained a new assistant coach. Coach John Bluem comes with quite the resume including being the head coach at The Ohio State University from 1996 to 2017. While Bluem was at OSU he was named Big Ten Coach of the Year four times, had 17 players drafted to Major League Soccer and made 10 NCAA tournament appearances.
In England, the Tigers practiced with other teams. The portion of the team that went got to scrimmage against a few teams as well. “Our trip to England was excellent,” head coach Dwight Burgess said.
“In addition to most of our upperclassmen, we had several families along, which made it really nice for the boys,” Burgess continued. “We traveled a bit, trained and played a couple of games. We spent a lot of time in London, but also went to the country for a couple of days and visited both Liverpool and Manchester. The weather cooperated, we returned having learned some things and without any serious injuries.”
While the incoming class numbers were a low for the university, they were at a high for the men’s soccer team. The freshmen come from a range of places and states including Ohio, Indiana, Florida and Washington.
“We are a very young team, just six seniors and six juniors on the roster,” Burgess commented. “We started eight freshmen in both games over the weekend and played nearly twice that many overall.”
Starting out their season on the road, the Tigers went head to head with the Thunder from Wheaton College.
“Wheaton is a traditional power program and we knew it would be a tough game,” Burgess said. “But, we eliminated a lot of unknowns for the newest players and found we can compete with a better team, just not yet as well as we would like.”
As a team, the Tigers made four shots, had four corner kicks, drew seven fouls and had seven saves. In the second half, three Tigers received yellow cards: Nick Christow (‘23), Sean Williams (‘23), and Eli Esterline (‘22).
On Saturday evening, the Tigers took on Elmhurst at Wheaton.
“Our second match, against Elmhurst was tight from start to end,” Burgess said. We gave ourselves an opportunity to win but came up a little short in the end falling 1-0.”
Coming up, the Tigers will be taking on the Muskies of Muskingum University and the Golden Tornadoes of Geneva College on the road before having their home opener against Mount St. Joseph’s University at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday Sept. 11. The Tigers will host Bluffton University’s Beavers and the Wilmington College Quakers before heading back on the road.
“Overall the coaching staff is pleased and encouraged by what we’ve seen,” Burgess said. “There’s much to learn and plenty to work on at practice, but we have a focused group, good leadership and a hunger to improve and compete. Again, our inexperience will take a toll but also pay off in the long run.”
We will have to wait and see what the Tigers have in store as there is so much soccer left to play this season.