The BJU men’s soccer season might not start until this fall, but head coach Jesse McCormick has already begun preparing his team in anticipation for the year ahead.
In fact, the coaches have been preparing for several months. “In all honesty, as soon as the [previous] season ends,” McCormick said, “[I] sit down with an assistant coach, and we evaluate what things went well this past year, and we evaluate what we need to do.”
Despite the rough campaign a season ago with the Bruins finishing with a 5-13 record overall, McCormick is optimistic about the coming season.
Two former Bruins have rejoined the team’s roster for the coming season: Derek Doran and Matt Moore. Coach McCormick expects both players to immediately contribute. Doran, a rising junior, supports the defense. Moore, a rising senior, was the leading scorer for BJU during the 2013 season and will be instrumental in the Bruins’ attack in the 2015 campaign.
This spring, the returning Bruins have already begun to build up their fitness level and teamwork for the upcoming season.
On April 11, the Bruins played two scrimmages against Southern Wesleyan University and Columbia International University. Despite having never defeated SWU during the first three years of the program, BJU beat SWU 1-0. Ryan McCarty scored the lone goal on an assist from Matt Moore.
The Bruins followed that scrimmage with a 2-0 win over CIU. Moore was instrumental again, as he cut through several defenders before assisting John Wilson on the opening goal. Bryce Colon then finished off CIU with a goal assisted by Ryan Woodham.
During the summer, the Bruins are expected to maintain the endurance and fitness that they built during the spring. McCormick developed a set of programs for the Bruins to complete over the summer months. The coaches even created a separate program for players who expect to work fulltime at home or plan to work at camps throughout the summer and will have limited time to work out. The conditioning and workout programs will allow the team to focus on footwork and play during the preseason.
The Bruins will have been conditioning and practicing all spring and summer, but the real test will be the first day when the players get back to campus in the fall. On the first day of practice, McCormick conducts fitness and endurance tests that include timed 2-mile runs that must be finished in less than 12 minutes. The players who are in the best shape coming out of the summer will have the first chance to prove themselves in the scrimmages leading up to the regular season.
Besides advanced preparation, another reason for his optimism for next season is the rising sophomore class. The large number of players with a year in the system allows for greater depth off the bench, as well as retaining chemistry built among the players over the past year. “We have a great core group of sophomores coming back,” McCormick explained. “The strength this next year is in the number of the guys returning, and [the returning players] coming together as a unit.”
The Bruins even spent a weekend at The Wilds in Brevard, North Carolina, to come together as a team. They built team chemistry as they volunteered with various tasks around the camp and later built camaraderie and trust as they completed a high ropes course.
The 2015 season may be several months away, but the preparation for it began immediately after the 2014 campaign drew to a close. For Coach Jesse McCormick and the Bruins, Aug. 27 and the beginning of the regular season cannot get here soon enough.