The Pacific University men’s soccer team will get their first taste of conference play on Sept. 16, against the reigning Northwest Conference champs, Whitworth University.
Currently in his third year as head coach for men’s soccer, Eric Mild, and coming off a Northwest Conference Coach of the Year season where the team finished second in conference behind Whitworth. The Boxers will be returning several players from the 2016 season which is one of the biggest advantages of the upcoming season.
“A lot of our returning players this year played well last season,” Mild said. “It’s a benefit having many kids know the structure of a college season and how to work through it as well as show the younger guys on the team.”
Among the many returners are 2016 first team all-Northwest Conference selection, senior Weli Alamillo and two 2016 second team all-Northwest Conference selections for seniors Matt Kimball and Leyton Thommasen. Kimball was also recently named the NWC men’s soccer Offensive Player of the Week to begin the season.
In a season where the Boxers will hope to get over the hump and into first place, Mild said the biggest keys will be earning points on the road and small defensive focus.
“We will score goals, we play an attractive style of football that is more attack oriented and can leave us vulnerable on defense,” Mild said.
That is where two of the four captains come and play key roles for Mild.
“Thommasen and Keilian MacCulloch are both very influential players for us on the back line. They are both good at communicating and make sure we are defending as a team,” Mild said.
Mild said one of the main focuses of the non-conference portion of the season was executing more consistently on both sides of the pitch and having the team to continue to grow and enhance their belief in the style of play.
The Boxer men have recently been ranked eighth in the region after their impressive start. They will look to take their streak into the weekend as they face Whitworth for the start of conference play.