The BJU men’s soccer team is keeping busy this spring. They scrimmaged USC Upstate, a Division I NCAA team, last Thursday night, and the game resulted in a 5-1 loss.
“The game wasn’t necessarily about winning,” forward Travis Woodham said. “It was about the experience of playing with a D1 school. The pace is different. It is faster and more intense. It is a great way to see where we stand and to prepare for the season.”
The USC Upstate Spartans scored first, but they were quickly answered by a far-post strike provided by Bruins forward Ryan McCarty.
As possession remained theirs, the Bruins continued to feed off the goal. “That goal gave us confidence,” Woodham said. “We used that as a confidence-builder and played a really good 10 minutes.”
But the Spartans would have the final say before halftime. “They were able to get through the back because of some defensive mistakes and overall team mental mistakes,” Woodham said. “Mistakes like that do not get forgiven by Division I teams.”
The Spartans came out of the half and made an immediate statement. They scored back-to-back goals and were quickly up 4-1. “We switched up our positions and tried new things,” Woodham said. “Coach was trying some new formations and strategies during the second half. We only had two subs, and on top of that, their first two goals [of the second half] were mistakes by us.”
The game also provided an opportunity for new players to gain valuable experience. Philip Gibble, a freshman middle school education major, recently joined the Bruins squad.
“As a goalkeeper, having shots taken on you in a fast-paced game like Thursday’s, against a DI school, is an invaluable experience,” Gibble said. “I learn so much in practice and am looking forward to the season. I look forward to the added responsibility and the higher level of discipline that is required from me.”
The Spartans scored once more and the game ended 5-1. The Bruins continued to play hard as the game progressed, and they used the game to learn, mature and prepare for the season to come.
“It is a privilege to be on a Bruins team,” Gibble said. “It is a role reversal for me as I come from a small Christian school. The opportunity to come here and play on a team where everybody is at your level or higher is definitely a learning experience that I look forward to into the season next fall.”