The goal for this year’s Taylor Men’s Soccer team is simple — keep the ball and score more.
Last season, the Trojans finished 6-10-3, and 8th in the Crossroads League, making the conference tournament. They fell to top seed Spring Arbor 2-0 in the quarterfinals.
One key departure from last year is goalkeeper Luke Williams, who made 99 saves last year, ranking number one in the Crossroads League.
“I don’t think you can replace him,” Paul McBride, last year’s leading scorer for the Trojans, said about Williams.
Between the sticks this season will be senior Joaquin Hansen from Chile.
“He’s actually better with his feet, which is helpful for us in possession,” Head Coach Gary Ross said.
Ross is returning for his 17th year coaching the Trojans and he says the team is excited to get back to the pitch and play again.
“We were looking great in the spring before everything got shut down,” Ross said.
The Trojans struggled offensively last year, getting outscored 30-21 and outshot 133-82.
This has led to a revamp of the offense led by last year’s leading goal scorer Paul McBride with seven goals. A revamp that will include getting the ball up the pitch more.
“Allowing our guys to create space and be patient in the final third of the field, so rather than trying to sit back and counter-attack this year, we are trying to get after it right away and pushing numbers up.” said Noah Rodman, a senior defender.
The Trojans brought in a healthy batch of freshmen as well, such as freshman Matt Harrold, a center midfielder, freshman Jackson Hoosier, a defender — both from Colorado Springs, Colo. and played at The Classical Academy — and Brian Matipa, an attacker from Bloomington, Ill.
According to Rodman, the freshmen bring a style of play that fits the new strategy of the team.
“He’s got a great shot, I think he will be one of our better scorers this year,” Ross said about Matipa.
James McBride, junior, is one of the bigger pieces of the midfield in terms of keeping possession and attacking, while senior Alex Gallup, and senior Cole Guillaume, will be key players in the defense.
One of the other goals besides trying to get the ball further up the pitch is to keep the ball more and win the possession battle. Winning this battle is the key to scoring more goals and solves potential defensive issues according to Ross.
“What we are doing is trying to break those habits of long direct balls, doing lots of possession work, lots of being able to do possession things in tight spaces,” Ross said.
This season has been anything but normal already with the current coronavirus outbreak and the regulations that have followed it. However, they are trying to not use the chaotic situation as an excuse to not perform well this year.
The Trojans will open their season against Brescia University on Sept. 5 at Turner Stadium to begin a 14 game schedule.