Men’s soccer clawing to the finish, hosts Midwestern Sunday

Junior Tony Simmons (left) and freshman Ryan Whiles fight for the ball during practice on Oct. 8. The Lions host Midwestern State at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Junior Tony Simmons (left) and freshman Ryan Whiles fight for the ball during practice on Oct. 8. The Lions host Midwestern State at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Kim DeRaedt

With only five games remaining, the Missouri Southern men’s soccer team is desperately scrambling to salvage its first win before time expires on the 2008 season.

While it would be easy for the Lions to write off what’s left of the season, the team isn’t about to surrender when the going gets tough.

To say that the going will be tough is an understatement as the Lions close out the year with five consecutive conference games. Among them will feature two contests against Midwestern State, a team currently occupying the second seed in the nation.

These underdogs aren’t about to be intimidated by teams garnering the national spotlight, however.

“We know that we can play with the best if we play a complete error free game. If we keep our heads up, in a matter of time, things will start to go our way. We just have to keep playing through this tough time,” said freshman forward Lawrence Lartey.

Lartey, a product of Lee’s Summit West High School where he was a second team all-conference selection, settled on Missouri Southern because he could receive an education and play on the soccer team while still staying close to home. Little did Lartey know, he would soon be embraced by a new family.

“The best part about being on the team is bonding with my teammates on and off the field. We have a great group of guys.”

Still, the transition to the collegiate environment hasn’t been all fun and games as Lartey is quick to point out.

“College soccer is definitely a faster game, and playing forward is challenging because there is a lot more running and work involved. I’ve never been so sore in my life after a game, and it’s because I run harder.”

Fatigue and injuries have certainly taken their toll on several other Lions as well. Lartey said how the ability to overcome these setbacks will be one of the crucial factors if the team hopes to launch a successful finale.

“Everyone needs to take care of his body on and off the field,” Lartey said. “We must have the desire to get better each and every day, play unselfishly, and leave no regrets. Practices need to be intense, yet patience is vital because in time, things will go our way.”

Lartey credits much of the practice intensity to the redshirts.

“I believe our redshirts are overlooked but play an indispensable role on the team. They make practices much more challenging which prepares us for big games.”

The “big games” will kick-off this Sunday at 1 p.m. as the Lions host Midwestern State before welcoming Northeastern State into town on Wednesday.

“We need to try to come out with a winning record down the final stretch. We have nothing to lose, so we just have to go out and leave everything on the field.”