The Bruins men’s soccer team seeks to get stronger this season as they prepare to defend last year’s national championship.

Junior Karl Walker, one of the team’s captains, said the team has changed in many ways this year.

“I  think  the first thing is that our team unity is a lot better,”
Walker said. “The dynamics of how our team works together [are] a lot better.”

Walker said without unity any team will  fail to succeed, regardless of individual skill.

Andrew Kester, a senior and team captain, said he sees whether or not the team is playing cohesively from his position as goalkeeper.

“The team works together fairly well at times, and then there are certain times it breaks down,” Kester said.  “When we’re playing well, we’re working together well, and when we’re not it’s pretty obvious.”

“Our team theme this year is unity and humility, because if there’s not the humility on the field, we’re not going to work together well,” Kester said.

But working well on the field comes from a team bond that starts off the field. The men’s soccer team has a strong off-field bond as well as an on-field one.

Laurent Cadet, a sophomore who joined the team a few weeks into this semester, said he enjoys the team’s off-field chemistry.

“After practice, we eat together. Most of us are in the same dorm, so it’s really fun,” Cadet said. “I like having the guys around me—having new friends.”

Even the equipment manager is part of the team’s bond. Senior Ethan Augustus, manager for the men’s soccer team, said the team members make him feel included.

“They’re really friendly, trying to get to know me. Even help me out with my job,” Augustus said. “I’ve been able to become good friends with a lot of them.”

In addition to focusing on unity, Walker said the team has more of a positive mentality this semester.

“This year is harder because we’ve played well but lost more,” Waker said. “But I feel like there’s a better atmosphere in the team.”

Coach Jesse McCormick strives to keep a more positive outlook to go along with the team unity.

McCormick said, with such a young team, he wants to help his athletes keep a positive outlook and grow throughout the year.

Another change Walker mentioned is a change in coaching style. Two years ago, McCormick focused on fitness and cardio. Now, McCormick is more focused on technical work.

“The emphasis of our team has changed,” Walker said. “We’ve done a lot more focus on possession and defending.”

McCormick prefers to use a tiki-taka style of play.

“I like to play more indirect—keep the ball, move the ball,” McCormick said.

Freshman Caleb Myers said, “Coach is super strict in some aspects of off-field stuff, making sure we’re doing the right thing. Which I think helps and carries over into the soccer side. So, we’re more disciplined as a team.”

McCormick said his long-term goals for his team are to  keep playing their game and to put themselves in position to be fit and healthy at the end of the year.

“It’s a balance. With the limited number of guys on the roster we’re trying to make sure we have the legs to do well,” McCormick said. “Injury wise too; making sure we’re keeping everyone fit and not overworking guys.”

The team also has short-term goals set in place.

“High possession. High on winning challenges and fifty-fifty balls. Making smart decisions on the ball,” McCormick said.  “If we’re doing those things well on a consistent basis, I think that the outcome is going to be wins in the win column.”

McCormick said he believes in the coming success of his team.

“If we work hard, do the process that’s needed and we’re diligent in the details, I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be in the national championship game.”