By MELISSA TORRE
The men’s soccer team continues to rise in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) rankings as they jump to the number 7 spot for week four.
The Spartans came into the season unranked by the NSCAA, and prior to this week were ranked number 15.
I would say it’s a good reflection of how we’re doing, and I think it’s proven to other schools that we are a team to look out for,” freshman goalkeeper Jake Richards said.
The team is currently undefeated with a record of 4-0-1, picking up wins against notable opponents such as Nova Southeastern and Spring Hill.
“If we keep rising up through the ranks our status will get more well known, and I think we could be a team people fear,” Richards said.
During their practices the team focuses on improving overall team shape. According to assistant coach Eric Sims, “it’s fine tuning who we are at this point.” And focusing on pulling each player’s talents together.
“You’re kind of preparing for your next opponent, but by the same token we want to make sure that we don’t change the way we play to make sure they adjust to us,” Sims said. “So our focus has been work great, defend as a team, and creativity and attack in the third.”
Head coach Adrian Bush said that the team’s success can not be pinned to a select few players, but rather to everyone who has been out on the field as a whole. Each player is special in that they each play a key role, according to Bush.
“We all have our separate jobs and we all know our own jobs, and we can sort of understand what each other’s roles are and how to help each other out in those roles,” Richards said.
According to Bush, the team does not focus too much on the rankings despite their early success, because he knows that in this league anyone can beat you. St. Leo was predicted to win the conference and they are currently in last place, so the team is not taking any opponents lightly. With nearly every team in the conference at an equal competition level, “every game has got to be approached in the right way,” according to Bush.
The Spartans have some challenging games coming up, including Embry-Riddle and Lynn, and are ultimately focusing on doing whatever it takes to reach the conference tournament in November.
“We’re continuing to work hard, stay humble, understand that we have a long way to go, that’s the biggest thing,” Bush said., “It’s good that we’re ranked but that doesn’t mean anything if we don’t win the league. If we don’t win the league, who cares if we’re undefeated in September, it matters where we are at the end of October, and that’s our focus.”
The team is looking to continue setting the pace for each opponent they will face later in the season. According to Richards, the Spartans just need to continue to keep playing their own game and not worrying about other teams.
“There’s no easy game, every game is a war,” Bush said.
Melissa Torre can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org