Team chemistry sparks improvement
Men’s soccer team scores lots of wins
Published: Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 19:07
It was a season of revenge for the Aggie men's club soccer team. Texas A&M avenged the previous year's knock-out loss to defending National Champion Weber State, but ultimately fell at the hands of University of Missouri in the Sweet 16, a team they had beaten in the regional tournament.
The Aggies stormed through the 2010 season, winning the first nine games before falling to the Texas Longhorns in Austin. During that nine game stretch, A&M outscored the opponents 31-4, with the smallest margin of victory at two goals.
Defense was a key factor for the team's success. The Aggies posted six shutouts during the 10 game regular season, three out of four games during the regional tournament, and backto-back shutouts in the national tournament. Nick Amy, a junior agricultural economics major, was part of the back four that consistently stopped opponents from scoring. He attributed much of the defensive success to cohesion.
"Our ability to communicate with each other, even from week one [contributed to our success]. We all knew what kind of player each other was, so we could make up for each other's mistakes," Amy said.
After tying the opening game in the regional tournament against Lamar University, the Aggies cruised past Lone Star College-Kingwood, Texas State and Missouri to clinch a spot in the national tournament. Up next was Weber State, a school the Aggies looked forward to seeking revenge on after losing to them in the eighth round of penalty kicks last year.
Senior central midfielder Ryne Heath recalled the motivation the team had in preparing for the rematch.
"Our hard work had gone into playing that team. Our mentality was, ‘We're going to be better than we were last year. We're going to beat that kind of a team,'" Heath said.
As a result, A&M shut down defending champion Weber State 2-0, knocking them out of the tournament. Oliver Mulamba, a graduate student who led the team in goals, noticed how the team prepared for this critical match.
"We were pretty motivated for it," Mulamba said. "The guys wanted it, and we made it happen. We worked harder, even when we were leading." Freshman midfielder Reagan Haisler also attributes the win to focus and calmness.
"Everyone was really focused [and] we had a good warm up. It was just business when they blew the starting whistle," Haisler said.
After dispatching Colorado School of the Mines, Missouri stood between A&M and another Elite 8 appearance. The Aggies beat the Tigers in the previous game 2-0, but found themselves unable to find the net in regulation, resulting in a scoreless draw. Missouri made the most of the overtime by knocking in a sudden-death goal, and with that, A&M's season was over.
"It was shocking. It was heartbreaking. We knew we had beaten them before, and we should have beaten them again," Mulamba said.
A&M's season ended sooner than expected, but the soccer team still enjoyed another successful season in the midst of stellar competition. Three Big 12 schools made the nation's Final Four: Texas, Missouri and national champion University of Colorado.
What were some of the factors that contributed to A&M's success?
"We have really good team chemistry. The returning players were strong, and we also had good players come in this year," Haisler said.
Mulamba also observed that his teammates aren't here on scholarship, and are here "because they love the game … and they've got a passion for it."
Many of the team's players emphasized what differentiates soccer from other sports.
"It's a mental game. It's a fitness game. It's not just all about who's the biggest and who's the strongest," Haisler said.
"There are no time-outs, no playbooks, [and] it's demanding" Mulamba said.
For those students wishing to get in on the action, A&M will have its annual 3-on-3 outdoor soccer tournament, which is open to any student who wishes to play. Details will soon be announced.
"People that watch the game of soccer watch it for 90 minutes. They love it because it's an art. It is a beautiful game," Heath said. "People that hate it don't understand it."