Stepped-up responsibility kicks Scots up to 4-3-1

By Jamie Macpherson

If you come to a game where I’m on my feet before the last ten minutes, it means we’re in trouble, head coach Ian Barker has said of his coaching style. Wednesday night he remained in his seat, watching as his players took down nationally ranked Augsburg College 1-0. This marks the second conference game Macalester has won this season, improving its overall record to 4-3-1.

The win is a double relief because it’s a sign that the team has turned around from a rocky start in which it lost its first three games.

“We started out with very high expectations,” captain Nate Juergens ’11 said, “but then proceeded to tie the first game to Luther and lose the second game to St. Scholastica, both teams we should have beaten.”

After the loss to St. Scholastica, the team regrouped, said Barker, with an emphasis on personal commitment to the team. It was decided that each player would step up their own game five percent, shouldering a bit more of the responsibility. With a bit of tongue-in-cheek, Barker described it as a Communistic approach.

Midfielder Reid Usedom ’12 explains it wasn’t so much changing the formation of their game, as much as playing to their full potential.

“I think we’ve seen what happens when no one steps up, or even if not enough people step up,” Usedom said. “We have enough experience that if everyone [contributes] we’re capable of having a really good season.”

“We have actual captains,” midfielder Jake Rocke ’10 said. “But [Coach Barker] expects everyone to not look to someone else to score, or take a header; [rather] taking the responsibility to improve the team . vocally, physically, in any way you can.” Rocke believes this plays to the team’s strength of overall cohesiveness. “It allows people to play off of their strengths. people aren’t shying away from what they do best.”

What the team does best, it seems, is playing together. Many of the players describe their style as smart and possession-oriented, a very technically sound style of play.

“We are a great passing team,” Taylor Rasmussen’13 said. “In the MIAC you’ll run into teams that are physical, or ‘Let’s play some defense and then shoot the ball up the field.’ We’re not like that.”

Juergens said the Scots didn’t do anything special to prepare for the big game against rival Augsburg, confident their own style was enough to defeat them.

“Augsburg is a big, fast, strong team that likes to use those attributes to their advantage,” Juergens said. “They don’t have the passing, possession skill of our team, but they kick it forward, chuck the ball into the box, win headers and capitalize on dead-ball situations.”

Another change to the Scots’ game is the rather unorthodox decision to alternate between two starting keepers, Mark Mulaney ’11 and Matt Weyer ’12.

“Both would start if they [had gone to another school,]” Barker said. “I was just lucky enough to get them both.”

Barker explains that rotating the goalies allows them to focus all their energies into a single game, keeping them fresher while giving them the playing time they need to continue improving.

“I feel completely comfortable with either of them in goal,” Rocke said. “Both are able to lead our team from the back and keep us in the game.”

The return of Carson Gorecki ’09 also has a significant impact on the team. Gorecki, who was unable to play last year after breaking his foot, was awarded one last season to play after qualifying for medical hardship. Gorecki has scored four goals this season, including the game winning goal against Augsburg at the end of the second half.

“Having [Gorecki] back is good,” Barker said. He worries however of potential deference to Gorecki on the field, expressing concern that players might expect Gorecki to win games all on his own.

“Carson is our biggest offensive threat,” Juergens said. “It is easy for the rest of the team to give him the ball and then sit back and watch him do his thing. But that just isn’t the best option for us if we want to win a lot of games.”

Wednesday’s win against Augsburg is a taste of what the men’s soccer team can accomplish when they bring their “A” game to the field: a line up of strong players, a cohesiveness, and a will to win.

“We’re a good competitive program,” Barker said. “We’re capable of beating anyone in our conference.”

Usedom is optimistic about the lineup, not being able to point to a single standout individual. “I’d like to just name every player on the team,” he said. “You’d be hard-pressed to find a weak link.