Men’s soccer staying optimistic

Kim DeRaedt

Although the win column may be empty, the men’s soccer team is full of optimism as they head into a daunting conference stretch.

With nine freshman and only five returning starters, the future looks bright for this young squad.

For now, however, the Lions are attempting to redeem themselves after a sluggish 0-6 start in which they dropped two one goal decisions including a heartbreaking overtime loss to Texas A&M International.

This won’t be an easy task, though, as the Lions are slated to kick off their road trip against two conference foes in the notoriously challenging Southwest Soccer Conference.

“We need to put it all behind us and start fresh,” said junior midfielder Ben Pantzlaff. “It’s important to learn our lesson from each game, apply it to the next match, and not dwell on the past.”

As an All-State selection from Nebraska, Pantzlaff has appeared in every contest this year for a Lions team that has struggled to find the back of the net.

The team has notched a mere three goals in its first six outings, but its focused on capturing that first victory.

“Once we get that first win, it’ll take the weight off of our shoulders,” Pantzlaff said. “We’re kind of down right now, but we’ll figure it out.

“We just have to come out hard and put everything we’ve been taught together.”

Even with the substandard start, all has not been lost for the Lions. The rough patch seems to have only brought the players closer together as Pantzlaff reflected upon the budding friendships.

It’s transferring this off the field chemistry onto the field that will be the key for the Lions as they take on Eastern New Mexico today before heading to West Texas A&M on Sept. 21.

Once this happens, the team could fly under the radar and emerge as a serious conference contender.

“Everyone is playing well individually, but now we need to concentrate on performing better as a team,” Pantzlaff said.