By Noel D’Amico
A month into the season, The University of Tampa men’s soccer is currently 1-2-3. The team is continuing to put in the work and push themselves going into the second half of the season.
This week the Spartans faced conference rivals #12 Rollins, ending in a 2-2 tie. Both Spartan goals came from junior, Marcello Valbuena. Tampa’s defense put pressure on the Tars, creating takeaways early on in the game.
Following that game, the team fell 1-0 at home against St. Leo, another conference opponent. Heavy rain and lightning started the game with weather delays that sent both teams back to the locker rooms. Despite the loss, the Spartans played strong, outshooting the Lions 13-4 in the first half. They controlled possession throughout the game.
“We have a lot of experience as a team,” said freshman defenseman, Will Waters. Following Wednesday’s game against St. Leo Waters told me, “I think we’re just right there, we lost 1-0 but we dominated the whole game so we’re just missing that last piece and I feel like once that clicks it’ll be really hard to beat us.”
The Spartans have plenty of game left to play to get that last piece to click in and let their record reflect how dominant they are on the field.
Becoming a Team
The transition onto a college team can be overwhelming for rookie players, but the veteran teammates made an impact on freshmen like Waters. “The veteran players have been really good, I’ve been learning a lot this year and hopefully I’ll be learning a lot more,” Waters said.
Being able to play alongside seasoned players and learn from them on and off the field is a huge benefit to individual players and the program as a whole. The cycle of moving up on a team and taking the time to connect with the next group of players is a special and rewarding opportunity.
This season, the team traveled to Costa Rica during preseason to train and play against other teams.
“We went to a really cool facility and it was cool to go to another country and play against teams in those countries and I think we learned a lot about each other on that trip,” Waters said.
In addition to working on skills and training, the trip provided a unique experience for the team to bond before the season began. “That was really good for our team, we have a lot of new guys so we were able to learn about each other and bond.”
Connection and communication are crucial in team sports. Having the opportunity to travel together gave players the chance to connect and challenged them to work together in a new setting. That bond is reflected in the team’s dynamic both on and off the field.
This week the team plays two more conference rivals. They travel to St. Petersburg to take on Eckerd on Wednesday, September 27. They’ll return to play at home on Saturday, September 30 against Barry University.