Men’s soccer kicks off their conference season Sept. 14 playing Le Tourneau in Lewisville, Texas.
Brad Bankhead, head coach of men’s soccer, expressed high confidence in this season’s team.
“We’re aged and seasoned and a little more experienced, so just from an experience standpoint, things should be better [this season].”
With a whopping 11 seniors on a 51-person roster, nine of which are starters, the team is comparatively older and more experienced on the field than other teams, which facilitates their sense of community.
“They are a special group of seniors and there’s good community in the group,” Bankhead said. “We’re very intentional about building team chemistry and making sure they love one another and enjoy what they’re doing.”
Because the team is so focused on becoming a unit, the players are building a strong sense of camaraderie.
“My favorite part about being on the team is definitely my teammates,” said reserve team sophomore Isaac Barcenas. “It’s great getting together knowing we’re all here for the same thing.”
With a heavy focus on his seniors, Barcenas is preparing for the season as best as he can. “I’m looking forward to most enjoying games as much as possible, and making it the best experience for the seniors.”
Barcenas also discussed the cathartic benefits of daily practice.
“That’s what Bankhead tells us. With a lot of the players’ families in Houston, they played kind of distracted, so coach told us to use the two hours of practice as a pause from life and just focus on the sport.”
Bankhead said that this season’s team is one of the better ones that he has coached in the 12 years that he’s been at the university. The coach hopes to inspire his players.
“Our success relies on the players to make the goals. Players need to step up and have the mentality to score; that’s the biggest hurdle we have to overcome.”
With tough practices, heavy filming sessions and raised expectations, losses are nothing to take lightly.
“I think we can win every game,” said Bankhead.
Following a 1-2 loss to Trinity University, he said Trinity university had a good team, but he doesn’t sleep well after any game the team loses.
“Even though we don’t have punishments after we lose games, coach expects us to show it in the next practice. We better be working hard,” Barcenas said.
With a perfect winning score as his goal, Bankhead speaks about a running theme that began from the team’s chaplain and continues throughout the season.
“Our theme this year is ‘climbing the summit.’ And the summit for us is NCAA playoffs, making a deep run. Each game is a step up the mountain, and I think we have a team that can climb the mountain.”
Practices and the team’s Monday devotionals are centers around their mountaintop goal.
“Our work rate is really high,” Bankhead said. “We have athletes working ha
rd and are attack-minded.
Even if you’re not a soccer fan, I think it’ll be an exciting venue, a lot of action, guys flying around. It’s a fun thing to come out and do on a Friday night.”
The next home game is against the University of the Ozarks on Sept. 21 at 7:30 p.m.