Slow start doesn’t stop big expectations

Last season, the men’s soccer team finished its season 14-2-4 after bowing out of the NCAA tournament in the round of 16.

The team is also the two-time, defending WIAC champions, and the National Soccer Coaches of America Association preseason poll had the team ranked No. 13 in the nation.

The team opened this season losing six starters. Three of those were seniors who earned both WIAC All-Conference and NSCAA All-Region honors. This year’s 25-man squad has more than half of the roster as underclassmen, and features only two seniors.

As of Sunday night, the team fell to 0-4 after losing to the University of Dubuque 3-0.

“We’ve had a rough start but there’s no reason to say that a few games is the end of our season,” junior Matt Mikesell said. “We have the talent to make another run, we just need to put the pieces together. Now’s the time to really get after it.”

There are plenty of games to be played this season for the Warhawks going forward, but the competition will only get tougher.

The team has 15 games remaining on a schedule that has been nationally ranked in the top 10 in terms of strength. The `Hawks will also face every team in their conference twice this season, including No. 3 nationally ranked UW-Oshkosh, for the first time ever.

“I feel good about our group,” Coach Greg Henschell said. “I think some of our guys may have felt the pressure of expectations, but as long as everyone is willing to come out and work hard we can turn this around.”

The `Hawks are also in a non-automatic qualifier conference, the WIAC, because they only have five teams instead of seven. This means that they are fighting for their post-season lives every time they take the field.

“We know we have a really tough schedule ahead, but we need to just go out there and play our game,” senior Kevin Kron said. “On the field, if we can just maintain a higher level of intensity and concentration we will get better.”

Although they have started the season 0-4, senior Ryan Boyd said the team needs to take each game one by one.

“Obviously this isn’t the start we wanted, but we need to just approach each game looking to get to 1-0,” Boyd said. “It’s not about the past it’s about what’s next.”

The `Hawks will play at 7:30 p.m., Sept. 15, against Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Ill.