Men’s Soccer prepares for a tough non-conference schedule By Corey Rholdon, Sports Editor
The Mississippi College Men’s soccer team started last season off with an 8-0-1 record but injures and tough losses kept the Choctaws out of the NCAA tournament. MC hopes to stay healthy this season with a roster that has a talented group of freshmen and a veteran core. Coach Kevin Johns believes that this team can get back into the NCAA tournament.
“We are going to be more dependent on a lot of newcomers than we were in the past. We do a have a good solid core returning, but we recruited and brought in 17 new players. The program is going to have to be depended on some of these players to step in and contribute really quickly for us to be successful,” said Mississippi College Head soccer Coach Kevin Johns.
A major reason for the Choctaws’ end of the season struggles were injuries. Junior defender Conner Johnson believes that the team has to stay healthy this season to be successful. “Towards the end of the season, we got a little unlucky against West Alabama. We lost at home to them, and then we started picking up some injuries. We have to make sure this season that our bodies are recovering, and we are taking care of our bodies. We have to do everything possible to make sure that we are staying healthy,” Johnson said.
This Mississippi College team is different from years past. They are younger with 17 freshmen, but Johnson sees the team being closer than ever though. “I think our team chemistry is great this season, we have been hanging out as much as we can. For example, we went bowling a couple weeks ago, and that was a great team event. We all bowled 300’s, if you we wondering. We are closer this season than the past two years, and we do not have too many cliques,” said Johnson.
MC will have to rely on that close team chemistry to start the season, as their first 4 games are on the road. Coach Johns views those 4 games as a test to see where his team is, and who they will be able to rely on. “Our first 4 games we go on the road to Florida for two, and Arkansas for two. It will get us tough and ready for GSC play. Those 4 games will be for us to see who can we depend on, any changes of formation that we need, and what players will step up and make goals for us,” Coach Johns said.
Kevin Johns is the winningest head coach in Mississippi College men’s soccer history, and even with a lot of newcomers the expectation remains the same: win the GSC and get into the NCAA tournament. “Our conference has a lot of parity, so if you don’t reload you will get beaten pretty handily. The returners know we were not that far off last year, so it’s not like we have a lot that we have to change to be competitive in the GSC this year. I expect us to be competitive in the conference again this year,” Coach Johns said.
After facing 4 non-conference road games to start the year, the Choctaws will come back home to face the 4-time defending GSC champions West Alabama in the GSC opener.