It has been an entirely new season for the men’s soccer team. Head Coach Paulo Neto has brought 22 new players and they’re already breaking records. They are currently 5-2-1 in the conference.
Though the transition for the team was difficult in the beginning, it has been filled with excitement. Neto said it has not been an easy process.
“We had to grow in the leadership department. It was hard at first for the new players to step up to the plate,” said Neto. “Not that our current players couldn’t step up to it, but we needed more.”
The transition of leaders and addition of new players led to difficulty at the beginning.
“We had a lot of struggles during preseason,” said Neto. “The losses were a result of the players getting to know each other off and on the field.”
Kyle Stonecipher, senior sports management major, said there’s a big difference between this year and his last three years on the field.
“Our practices are more competitive,” said Stonecipher. “When we practice now, it’s more serious, preparing us for the games.”
Stonecipher said that bringing home wins has changed the team’s attitude and view.
“We are top of the league right now,” said Stonecipher. “It’s a really good feeling to actually go into the game knowing that you could win.”
Neto said he is changing the team’s atmosphere.
“It’s creat(ing) a resilience and confidence that (we) can win,” said Neto.
Neto said he wants the team to be something that people look forward to watch.
“We want to bring the community together,” said Neto. “We want to give them a good product to watch.”
Jonas Uhlhorn, freshman business management major, is one of the new international players. He came from Frankfurt, Germany, to join the Hawks on this new journey.
Uhlhorn said his first time on the field was special.
“It was an exciting moment when I played for the first time,” said Uhlhorn. “It was a strong feeling.”
He also has been able to note the difference from preseason to now.
“Preseason was pretty hard,” said Uhlhorn, “but we are now getting the benefits. We have a feeling of satisfaction from the hard beginning.”
Sam Clare, junior psychology major, is a transfer from Tennessee Wesleyan College. Clare said he has noticed Neto’s dedication to the team.
“The coach is very passionate about futbol,” said Clare. “He wants to appreciate what we have as a team.”
Though the soccer team is representing 12 different nationalities, they come together on the field very well, according to players and coaches. Clare said the team is building their connection.
“It took us a couple of weeks to get to know each other off the field, but on the field we connect very well,” said Clare. “Futbol is one of those things where if there are any differences, you can put those to the side and connect on the field.”
Uhlhorn said that the transition has been a special connection for everyone.
“It was pretty easy because with 22 new players, everything was new to everybody,” said Uhlhorn.
Neto is excited to be at Shorter. He looks forward to the conference and the team’s future.
“I’m very excited for this season,” said Neto, “but I know that next year will be even better because now we have a solid foundation.”
The men come back Friday night, Oct. 4, at 7 p.m. to face the Lee University Flames on their own Ben Brady Field.