MARQUETTE — After it was made official one year ago, the Northern Michigan men’s soccer team took the field today for their first practice ever.
“I think I have to say this is why we do it. We come out for a beautiful day like this and start our inaugural season with a training session with all the players that I saw and recruited and watched them work and smell the grass. It’s special,” head coach David Poggi said.
The players come from all different backgrounds and levels of experiences, so there are a lot of things to iron out when they take the field for the first time as teammates.
“Just knowing where and when you can pass it and where the other guys are going to be, but that comes with time. Just like when you start from break, everybody is cold and you just have to get into shape,” midfielder Sveinn Karlsson said.
“The first day the most difficult thing is not being too selfish and really just playing as a team and not trying to be so self-centered on the ball,” said defenseman Kevin Hoof.
“We get to know each other a little more. It’s fun to get out here. It’s a great field. I like it. Good location. We’ll keep getting better every practice,” midfielder Sam Popp said.
“The fitness is good. I think we made the right decisions with people. There’s no weakness that I can see. But now we start to build from the ground and we work our way to the top,” Poggi said.
Although this is the first year for the program, the confidence level is high for a coach that still has high expectations.
“He’s not taking a losing season. It’s kind of one of those things we’re going to go through. He demands the best from us and I think having anything less than that is wrong. I’m excited about
it. I think we’ll do well,” Popp said.
“He is very confident in us and he thinks we should have the confidence as well. He wants to win a national championship. Obviously that’s the goal. We can do it. We got a good squad out here,” said Hoof.
“As a coach, I think it’s important to have the confidence to be successful. If you don’t dream to be at the top, then I don’t know if you could ever achieve it. You don’t see Olympic athletes saying “I just want to finish the race. I’d like to be there with the bronze.” They want to win the gold. And if you don’t have the same attitude as a player or as a coach, then I think you don’t ever challenge yourself to your fullest potential,” Poggi said.
The Wildcats will open the season on September 4th at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. The home opener will be against Lake Erie on September 16th.