A 2-1 home win against Fort Wayne last Saturday gives the men’s soccer team reason to hope. The conference victory brings the Roos to 2-4-2 for the season and 1-0 in Summit League Play.
Head Coach Rick Benben expressed optimism that the team will bounce back despite a 1-4-2 start, but he acknowledges the Roos have struggled with games on the road.
“We play a real demanding schedule,” Benben said. “All the teams we have played have been really top rated teams. I don’t really thing we have been struggling. I think our performances have been really good, and particularly this Sunday we made a lot of progress as a team.”
The Roos have lost all away games and won two of three regular season home games so far—a 2-1 win against Baker on Sept. 6 and Saturday’s conference win.
Benben believes starting the season with several away games will be beneficial in the long run.
“I’m not really that concerned with our results,” Benben said. “It’s a part of being in our conference. It’s hard for us to get home games, so we have to play a lot of games on the road and we like to play good competition to get us prepared for our Summit League season.”
Nor did Benben say that he believes the team is struggling overall.
“I think if you look at our record and if you just want to look at that, you could say we are struggling,” Benben said. “But I don’t look at it that way at all. I think we have grown a lot as a team. We’ve had a cavalcade of injuries and sickness and players have been out. This Saturday was the first time we were able to put out what I anticipated being a real starting eleven.”
Failure to score has also been a factor in the team’s rocky performance leading up to conference play. Benben is hopeful that with a healthy team and the pre-season concluding the Roos’ offense will be stronger and more aggressive.
“We have made a lot of progress. I expect us to play well,” Benben said. “You can see that in the Florida International game. We created more good scoring opportunities and chances than we have probably in all the rest of the games combined. That is something that gives us confidence moving forward.”
Players are also staying optimistic. Sophomore defender Frankie Washington still likes the team’s chances for success.
“We’re getting better. We’re improving,” Washington said. “We played some really great competition, but we showed improvement in each game, and we’re getting ready for conference play.”
Washington also isn’t concerned about the team’s lack of scoring thus far.
“It just takes time. It comes with practice and hard work and sometimes other teams’ goalies make good saves,” Washington said. “We just got to keep our heads in it and keep going after it. [The forwards are] doing a good job, they just got to keep in it mentally and they’ll get some goals.”
The team is focused on winning the Summit League and advancing to the NCAA Tournament. Junior midfielder David Coulter also likes the team’s chances for conference success.
“I feel like we can win the conference,” Coulter said. “That’s the team’s goal.”
Benben is even more optimistic after Saturday’s win.
“We expect to win every game,” he said.