mens soccer
The men’s soccer team joins in huddle on the field in a photo from the 2019-2020 season, a common occurrence before COVID-19 distancing regulations. 
Photo Provided by MU Athletics

Cancelled Fall Season Can’t Block MU Men’s Soccer Team 

TJ Whitmer

The soccer pitch is quiet for the fall season as Covid-19 guidelines and restrictions give the men’s season a red card, pending a review for a spring season by the HCAC.

Training and recruiting this fall have changed with new protocols with masks, virtual visits and more Zoom calls. The fall may look different to the players and coaches, but they want to treat it like a normal season where improvement is the first goal.

As the men’s soccer team moved in for the fall semester, training also began for when their season does get approved for play. The team of 54 is working out together six days a week. Four days are set aside for basic skill training to improve on-the-field game mechanics, while the other two days are scheduled for inter-squad scrimmages. Being a high-risk contact sport according to the HCAC, the team mandates wearing masks or gaiters during training periods, having less contact with equipment, and maintaining the six feet rule on and off the practice fields.

With many classes being shuffled around to satisfy Covid-19 guidelines, so has the training schedule. Head coach Corey Brueggeman says: “We offer four training times-- players are being assigned to one of those times.” The coaching staff has a longer schedule, but they make it work.

With a large first-year class, the team will have a lot of young untapped potential. When the season does start, this “new look team,” as Brueggeman put it, it will incorporate a handful of first-years into the rotation. “We have a lot of returners and young players, and I am excited to see how much they can develop over the next few months,” Brueggeman said.

Senior midfielder Nick Surber says it best when it comes to team morale. “We could be like all these other schools and cancel everything all year,” he said. “We have a shot to play in the spring, so I believe team morale will be stronger this year due to the bond the soccer team has. 

Seniors are disappointed at the moment as they cannot play a sport they grew up with, however, they are focused on what to improve on this fall. “You always have to look at the bigger picture,” Surber said. “We are on campus, we can still train, and we still get to play a sport we love even though it is limited.”

In addition, recruiting has also changed for those wanting to play in college. Brueggeman says he has a plan and is creating a shortlist of players to further the men’s soccer program. Recruiting has almost become all virtual from watching live streams of game, contacting coaches and using Zoom to talk with recruits.

This fall training season will not be taken for granted by the seniors, as it is their “last ride.” The expectations Surber has set for himself are, as he puts it, “to leave the team better than I found it.” Covid-19 may have taken a fall season away from the seniors but they will try for a spring season when the time comes. “God dealt the cards and we just have to deal with it to the best of our abilities,” Surber said. “We grow."