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Mind games

September 27, 2013

It has been a week of frustration for the men’s soccer team as they dropped three games, each by a single goal. The new coaching regime of Kooten Johnson has begun without fanfare, but Johnson believes that their 1-7-1 record doesn’t tell the whole story. “We are getting better each week and the guys are working hard,” said Johnson. “We just don’t know how to finish off games and win them yet. Once we find a way to beat a couple teams, our winning mentality will shift and we will be very dangerous.”

Chizobam Nkemeh, a sophomore who leads the team in scores, agrees with his coach. “I feel as if the team has the blueprint, but we just need to build off it. We have firepower and are going to upset the conference this year.” This week’s losses include a loss to Central College on Wednesday and the first two conference games of the season versus St. Norbert and Ripon on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. The last time men’s soccer claimed the Midwest Conference title was 2001 when they won the postseason tournament.

Johnson insists his team is persevering with the right mindset. “There is always a degree of frustration in losing, especially when you have competitive athletes. So I cannot say that we are not frustrated.”

A result of that frustration might be increasingly aggressive play from Nkemeh who’s collected three cards in the last three games and was ejected in the Sunday match. “It’s difficult for a 6’2” 200 lbs. forward to not play hard and go in for tackles, but I’m working on it.”

On Saturday, the Scots’ will continue conference play in Appleton, Wisconsin facing Lawrence University. This could be a chance for Monmouth to build momentum off a 3-4-1 Lawrence squad. Lawrence is suffering on offensive as they are shooting an anemic .091 on 12.4 shots a game.

Coach Johnson says the Scots’ mental game needs to improve for success to come. “We have given up too many goals on restarts and counterattacks and that is because of a lack of concentration. We are hoping to change that, which will give us a better chance to win some games.”

The Scots will next be at home Thursday, Oct. 3 when they host conference rival Illinois College at 4 p.m.

Cameron Line
Sports Editor

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