Men’s soccer looks to build on disappointing season

By Michael Abramson

No matter how you look at it, this season has been a disappointment for the Macalester men’s soccer team. In the first year under new coach Gregg Olson, the Scots finished 4-13-1, and just 2-8 in conference, four wins fewer than their 6-3-1 conference record last year. This was Macalester’s first losing season in 25 years. “In no way did I expect us to do as poorly as we did,” said right-winger Will Matsuda ’15. “I didn’t come into this year expecting it to be a rebuilding season.” In early October, Coach Olson echoed similar sentiments. “Expectations of the players at a place like Mac, which has a great history in soccer, [are high]. We want to win, we want to compete,” said Olson. “I haven’t been a part of a team where we’ve struggled, so I’m learning right now too.” The team faced an early setback when All-MIAC forward Taylor Rasmussen ’13 suffered a season-ending injury in preseason. Rasmussen led the team last year with 14 goals in 18 games. “Taylor can score a goal a game,” said Olson, “and in our sport that’s enough to win. When you have a guy like that who takes over a game, you become accustomed to it. Everyone thought we’d have that and we [didn’t].” Matsuda described the loss of Rasmussen in a similar way. “Taylor is a guy who when he got the ball you knew something was going to happen,” Matsuda said. “We missed that all year. It was sobering not having him.” The team also had trouble pulling out victories in tight matches. Despite their record, the Scots averaged 12.1 shots per game, compared to opponents’ 14.2 shots. “I think we played really well a lot of the time and just couldn’t put the ball in the net,” Matsuda said. “I definitely think this team can win, we just didn’t get any bounces this year.” The Scots played a number of highly ranked opponents, including Loras College, which is ranked #4 nationally, and Carleton, which is ranked #13. Mac both lost to both by just one goal. “Whenever there is change, there is going to be atrophy,“ said Olson, “but I think our quality of play has gotten much better as the year has gone on.” Still, some players did not buy into the change. Three players quit mid-season: starting goalkeeper Brian Carr ’15, Carlos Alban ’13 and Tommy Symmes ’13. “It was certainly frustrating to see teammates quit. They’re your teammates, you want them out there with you obviously,” Matsuda said. “But I don’t think anyone was angry or anything. It was especially sad to see the seniors quit, because they had invested so much in the program.” “Greg and I didn’t really see eye to eye. We didn’t connect,” Carr said. “I think I just kind of lost my passion for the game, and at that point you really shouldn’t be playing anymore.” Expectations also seemed to be an issue between players and Olson as well. “Greg was really enthusiastic in a good way, but he expected this to be like a D-1 program and a D-1 environment,” Carr said. “When we got into the school year, we had 7 am lifts or video sessions followed by practice later that night. It just became too hectic.” “There were times that he didn’t seem to realize we had stuff to do outside of soccer,” Matsuda said. “I think sometimes there were some mixed feelings about Gregg because of that.” Olson believes the differences between Division I and Division III soccer apply more to the off-season than during the regular season. “In season there’s not much difference at all,” Olson said. “The biggest difference between here and Stanford is, they play UCLA, we play Carleton. But it’s still that intense environment; it’s still incredibly competitive. It’s more the name that’s on the shirt that changes. The off-season is much different, but in the fall players are just as dedicated.” Despite the difficulties, both coaches and players are looking forward to the future. “I think there are lots of cliché things I could say right now about going through something like this, but really I do think this season is going to make us better in the long run,” Matsuda said. “I know how I feel, and I think the rest of the team feels the same way. I want to make sure what happened this year doesn’t happen again.” “I don’t think we’re going to have any troubles with recruiting,” Olson said. “The product that we have and the history that we have are really strong. And sometimes there are bumps in the road, but we’re going to get to our history. We’ll make it current.” refresh –>