The BJU Bruins men’s soccer team is nearing the halfway point of its fifth season in intercollegiate competition.
Head coach Jesse McCormick said having a challenging schedule is part of the plan to get the Bruins playing better. “We have one of the toughest, if not the toughest, schedules in NCCAA Division II,” McCormick said.
McCormick said another reason the Bruins are playing a tougher schedule is because they are trying to put themselves in a position to play for a national championship.
McCormick said that so far the Bruins have struggled with consistency, but they are still in a transition and are competing well.
The Bruins won both of their preseason games in August and are currently 1-5 overall in the regular season and 1-0 in conference play.
All five of the Bruins’ losses this season have been close losses, losing by no more than two goals.
The Bruins’ only win of the season so far came from the dramatic 4-1 victory over rival Pensacola Christian College on Sept. 16.
The game against PCC drew the largest crowd for a Bruins’ game this season, with just over 3,300 people attending the game.
“The support was fantastic,” McCormick said. “I was very pleased with the support from the students, faculty and staff.”
McCormick said the PCC game was one of the key games for the Bruins this season. Some other games he listed as important are the Bruins’ homecoming game against Columbia International University and the game against Bryan College, who is currently ranked sixth in the NAIA.
The NCCAA Regional Tournament in October will also be important games for the Bruins.
The Bruins’ performance in the regional tournament will decide whether or not they make it to the national tournament in November.
Both the regional and national tournaments will be held at Johnson University in Kissimmee, Florida.
Since the start of the season, McCormick said the team’s combination play is improving and that more of the players are getting on the same page.
“Making sure we’re on the same page defensively will be key,” McCormick said after the Bruins lost a close game to St. Andrews University on Sept. 20.
Garrett Martin, a junior from Simpsonville who plays midfield for the Bruins, said one of his personal goals is to win a national championship with the Bruins.
“I value the platform God gives me through soccer,” Martin said. “Also, it’s enjoyable being around like-minded guys on the team.”