BY RYAN GIBB
It has been quite the ride for the university’s men’s club soccer team (7-0-3). Undefeated at this point in time, the boys have turned winning into a habit.
By dominating in the regular season and blazing through Regionals, the team has won all five games, knocking out a strong Georgetown squad in the finals on Oct. 22 in penalties.
Graduate student and center midfielder Jacob Lemelin put the game away with an unstoppable penalty kick into the top left corner to decisively send his team to Nationals in Texas for the first time in three years.
Ulysis Slagle, team captain and graduate student at the university, described the feeling of the ball hitting the back of the net.
“To me, to get back to this point has been very surreal,” Slagle said.
As Slagle has served as captain for the past four years, he is the only current player who has won regionals and played in Nationals. The last time he went to Nationals, Slagle and his team fought to the final four of the tournament, recording the university’s best club soccer finish.
Slagle’s experience on the team has been one of ups and downs. He advanced to the final four his sophomore season, but had his junior season cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, he fell short of Nationals as a senior. But finally cruising to Nationals in his fifth year, Slagle plans on finishing this run with the title.
According to junior left back Mikey Phillips, this team is different from last year’s in that they are more connected, both socially and tactically.
“As a team we’ve gotten a lot closer … We do stuff as a team more so that definitely helps with the chemistry,” Phillips said. “I feel like we’re more structured this year with practices and practicing certain drills.”
With 23 other teams traveling to Texas, the boys know that bringing the chip home will not be an easy feat.
Phillips said that the team’s confidence and determination has gotten them to where they are, and will continue to get them far.
“There’s not a team that can beat us going onto the field,” Phillips said.
Phillips added that the team this year sports the mentality needed to make it all the way.
This electric, yet poised energy churning throughout this squad may be the element that separates them from the rest.
“Our mindset is if we can outwork our opponent, we will be able to win the game. Everyone on our team I feel like is very good technically and soccer IQ-wise,” Slagle said. “Everyone’s played their whole life.”
Slated to fly to Texas on Nov. 17, the team hopes to continue its hot streak, but according to Slagle, taking it one game at a time is the key.