STORY BY ADAM ROGAN
The spring season has kicked off for the Drake Men’s Soccer team, acting as a preseason for next year.
Teams are only allowed to play matches on five different dates in spring, but Drake will play a total of seven matches this semester, as they have two doubleheaders planned. These games allow teams to face off with other schools, see how well they match up and give them the chance to practice different strategies in-game without being penalized for mistakes.
“Spring is great because it’s a time to improve the team, but improve the guys individually. Whereas in the fall sometimes you’re just surviving game to game,” head coach Sean Holmes said. “It’s better for teaching.”
Inexperienced players reap the greatest benefit from these games, as they are able to play some much-needed minutes on the field.
“Especially for the younger guys, it’s just getting experience under their belt and getting confidence. Everyone is just improving in terms of their decision-making. I think that’s the biggest thing, when you’re transitioning into the college game,” said sophomore forward Ben LeMay. “Guys are making good steps, good strides … and just playing as a team rather than individuals.”
Junior Alec Bartlett, a defender, also touched on this topic, mentioning how difficult it can be to adapt to the varied, faster and more physical styles of play at the collegiate level.
“Definitely coming from high school to college, it’s a different game,” Bartlett said. “Especially for the younger guys, anytime they get to play with older players, different competition, it just helps them acclimate to the game.”
Bartlett expanded on this topic, saying that the spring season is not only good for individual development, but also for the players to come together and learn how to play together as a team.
“The spring season is vital for us,” Bartlett said. “We transition from people leaving and graduating into more of a cohesion of what we’re going to look like next year. … Any time you get to play with your teammates it helps.”
The Bulldogs started the spring season at 3-0 with wins over Truman State University, Grand View University and Graceland University. However, their competition should toughen tonight and on April 18, as the Bulldogs take on Upper Iowa University and a Big 10 powerhouse: the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Still, if Drake is unable to continue their win streak Holmes believes that these games are still quality learning experiences.
“Sometimes it’s good to lose. Sometimes it’s good to fail. It’s a good chance to improve and to learn from your mistakes,” Holmes said.
Although losing can be a good learning experience for the Bulldogs, they still plan to attack the field every night and give their opponents a run for their money.