By MELISSA TORRE
The men’s soccer team celebrated not only a victory on Sept. 9 against Clayton State, but freshman goalkeeper Jake Richards’s first ever collegiate shutout.
The Spartans won the game 4-0, improving their home record to 4-0.
Richards earned his second consecutive start against Clayton, and finished the evening with one save made on three shots.
“In all honesty when I finished the game versus Clayton State I was just happy that we had won the game, because that is the main priority and I was happy about that,” Richards said. “Obviously it was a good feeling as well to get the clean sheet, but it wasn’t just my clean sheet it was a team clean sheet as it was a team effort that night to not concede any goals.”
Richards, originally from England, says he has not had many issues adjusting to collegiate play due to his intense training back home. However, Richards enjoys working with both his coaches and teammates here.
It has been good so far working with the coaches at UT as it is interesting to see the different views of coaches compared to the ones I worked with in England,” Richards said. “The coaches make it clear what they want from the team, and I feel that the whole team understands that and we all have the same goal.”
During practice, Richards focuses on exercises to help improve his all-around game. According to head coach Adrian Bush, one of the main things Richards has been adjusting to since coming down from England is the weather and heat that comes with living in the sunshine state.
“There are many drills that I practice to improve, I make sure that I am a well rounded goalkeeper so that any situation that comes I am prepared for and know how to respond to it,” Richards said.
The coaching staff has been impressed by Richards’s dedication and commitment while training. Bush also stated that his work ethic is a major component to his level of success this season
“His training habits are off the charts, I mean technically he’s as sound as any 18 or 19 year old player that I’ve ever seen come in here,” Bush said. “And I credit that to just his mentality to train and to train hard, like everyday he trains hard and that’s where it starts.”
Despite being a freshman, Richards is one of the possible choices for starting goaltender this season. He battles returning juniors Richard Trench and Ben Alpern for the starting position.
“All three of them have done very well…so I think he’s [Richards] getting used to it, and he doesn’t really get rattled and I think that just comes from where he comes from and how he was brought up,” Bush said.
Looking forward, Richards has big goals for the team as a whole this season. The most important one being to try and win UT its fourth national title in men’s soccer. As a personal goal for the season, Richards is trying to get as much playing time possible.
“I think the main goal is to make the national tournament and go the whole way and win it, I think that we have a good enough team to do so and [I] have a lot of confidence that we can do it,” Richards said.
Melissa Torre can be reached at email@example.com