HELENA — The Carroll College men’s soccer team has had a productive preseason. With Cascade Conference play starting this Friday at home against Wall Walla, the real work is about to begin, because this conference can get pretty top-heavy.
“You’ve got Rocky (Mountain College) and Corban sitting up on top, and they usually stay up there a bit — just full-ride scholarship-program type things.” said Carroll men’s head coach Doug Mello. “But it’s going to be a battle for the other six sports in the playoffs, and we are certainly hoping to be in the middle of there somewhere, maybe third or fourth. We were picked fifth in the conference by the rest of the coaches — not too shabby, but we know we can finish higher than that.”
“We’re going to have a couple teams that are consistently at the top of the league,” said senior captain Kyle Thomson. “Some are going to stay at the bottom, but for the most part it’s going to be a tough matchup across the board.”
So the Saints know they have their work cut out for them, meaning they will have to rely even more on their senior leaders, which should not be an issue.
“I think this year we have a lot of seniors, so we’re seasoned players,” said captain Alessio Georgiades. “We can look to the freshmen to bring some new stuff, so I think it will help us a lot.”
“I think we’re doing pretty good,” added fellow captain Jose Porras. “It’s been some pretty good preseason weeks in which we’ve tried to focus on our technical play and we’re also trying to be more physical this year. We have a great group of senior people that are trying to take leadership of this team and we’re trying to get that conference championship this year.”
And of those seniors, it’s the team captains who will steer this team in the right direction.
“We look for somebody that can represent the team when we’re doing community service work,” Mello said. “Gather the guys and get them out to different things and stuff. When on the field, deal with the referees in a sense of being respectful and talking to the refs. You know, at practice, get things going when we relay to the team, ‘This isn’t good enough, let’s pick it up a bit,’ they’ll chime in. And really with us, it’s our system of play that everybody has to buy into. That’s one of the unique things about soccer, is you got 11 players out there that all have to perform well individually, they have to win their individual battles, but they also have to play as a team. And if two or three are kind of off sync if effects the rest of them.”
That shouldn’t be a problem for the Saints, either.
“I think this is the first year that we really connected as a team and really felt like a solid unit,” said Thomson. “We’re a little further into the history of the program now, so once you get some guys to go up through the ranks and some younger guys that are filling in, and I think that helps a lot.”