The men’s soccer tryouts are officially finished and the team is now getting ready for their first game, which will take place this Friday, September 8th, against Concordia University at the latter’s home field. Both recruited and returning players have come in two weeks prior to their first game to do conditioning at 6:30 in the morning and practice from 5:00-7:00 in the evening every day during the week. With this rigorous training schedule, players have become fitter and ready for this week’s game.
The selection process for this year’s team was very different for head coach Al Grashuis and assistant coach Victor Pintilie. In comparison to the seven players that the head coach started with last year, this year has had nearly 30 people try out, with the intention to carry a team of 24 with only five returning players. The last day of tryouts took place last Thursday, August 31st, and the final team was announced this Monday, September the 4th. Although the coaching staff had to make hard decisions when finalizing the team, they are confident about the current lineup they will carry to represent Andrews this week Friday.
I had the opportunity to speak to coach Grashuis to get his thoughts on this year’s team and this week’s game. Grashuis said, “recruiting some very talented freshmen is going to be a big help. We also have some good returning players which will help show the way. We are building up for the future and that will help our team overall.” From the first two weeks of practice, this team has already been a good mixture between the new talent and experience and this season will be a good test to see how well they work together. “I think that both returning players and new players are complementing each other well and that is very impressive to me,” said the coach.
During my interview with the head coach, I wanted to get his take on the upcoming game. “We prepare the same way we do for any other game,” Grashuis said. “One team is no more special or different than any other. If I have the film available then I will watch that and make the necessary changing to the team based on the opponent's’ skill level and things of that nature, but other than that we are looking good.” After only a few practices the confidence of the players has risen and they are excited to play on Friday. The expectations for this season are higher than last and Andrews is ready to see what this year's team can produce. “I expect us to be a lot better than last year. We were able to have a different approach, as I did not come in as late this year and have had more players to choose from and am now able to work with the final team,” said coach Grashuis.
This week’s game will be Concordia’s fourth game of the season and Andrews’ first. That will make it challenging because of the team’s inexperience but a win is still the outcome we are looking for. Victor Nyachieo (senior, right-back player) said, “I am nervous for our first game because I do not know how we play yet on a big stage, but I am excited because it will give us the chance to see how we play and a chance to reevaluate afterwards.” The Cardinals played Concordia last year here in Berrien Springs and lost but this year they plan to write a different story and not only come back for revenge but start the season off right. Next Monday, September 11, will be the team’s first home game. All are invited to attend and support the Cardinals.