Editors Note: This is the second posting in a series of journal entries by Spartan junior men's soccer captain Evan Scheffey. Scheffey was an All-American in 2006 from his defensive position as the Spartans finished the year ranked fifth in the country with a record of 21-0-3.
Evan Scheffey's Journal Entry #2 - August 29, 2007
As the summer days quickly came to end, it again became time to start pre-season practices. Most of the guys did their best to stay competitive by playing on a summer league team or their respective club team. The returning players, incoming freshman, and transfers all returned to campus ready to compete and get the season started.
Most of the team arrived early, getting a head start on the preseason. It is nice to have most of the players together because it allows the returning players to get to know the incoming freshman. It also allows everyone be more relaxed on the pitch without having the pressure of coaches evaluating them. The freshman that arrived early stayed with the upperclassman for the week since college housing wasn’t available to them, giving everyone the opportunity to get to know each other on a more personal level. The days prior to practice consisted of running in the morning, playing small-sided in the afternoon, and finishing the day with a full-field pick up games. All went well and the newcomers seemed to be more comfortable around the returning players. The informal time spent together helped us get ready for our fitness test, which marked the official start of the 2007 pre-season.
Even though the fitness test can cause more anxiety than excitement for the first official training session, it does let the team see where we’re at personally and as a whole with our fitness level. The fitness test consists of running 1.5 miles under 9 minutes, a 2 minute break, 400m in 80 seconds (3x), and finishes with 200m in 40 seconds (3x). Despite the fact that not everyone made all the times, it was a big step in the right direction as a team. We all helped each other fight through the pain and keep going when we felt like giving in. The intensity of the practices were very high as we all knew we were fighting for a spot on the team. Our morning sessions usually consisted of working on our technical skills and getting touches on the ball, while our afternoon sessions mainly consisted of playing small-sided games. We finished our days with playing full-sided scrimmages to see what everyone could bring to the table. Throughout the first four days of three-a-days, the weather threw us for a loop as we saw massive amounts of rain and temperatures in the low 70’s, which obviously are pretty rare conditions for the middle of August. We did what we could given the conditions and continued to battle for a roster spot.
Due to a very successful season last year, we were able to recruit some incredibly skilled freshman and transfers. The incoming players had a very solid first few days of pre-season and continued to push our talented core of players returning from last year’s team. This mix of new players and returning players created an extremely competitive environment for each session leading up to our first scrimmage. We all knew that we had put in the work in the previous sessions, but it was time to test ourselves against another opponent.
Last year in our first scrimmage, we got embarrassed in a 4-1 loss to Bloomsburg University. That game still weighed heavily on our minds as we scrimmaged them this past Wednesday. We came out and looked sharp from the start. Our offense was on point early and had us a 3-1 lead by halftime. The attack was driven by the talented trio consisting of Andrew Wheeler, Chris Ports, and Jon Ports. Our midfield did a tremendous job all night long of possessing the ball and stabilizing our attack. Matt Detzel, a transfer from Pitt, did very well for himself on the left flank. Travis Williams had an impressive game at right back, as he held down the defense alongside Mike Whalen and Matt Beale for most of the game. As the starters were subbed out, many of the new players were given their first opportunity to impress the coaches and their fellow teammates, and they did not disappoint. The players worked out the nerves and continued to keep up the high level of play that was expected of them when they replaced the starting 11. They worked hard through the 90th minute were able to add four goals onto the halftime score and ended the game with a 7-1 result. The night was capped off with some delicious home cooking from Coach Ludwig’s mom to keep us all smiling.
Although we left the pitch with a positive feeling, we knew it was just the first small step in what is to be a very long and grueling season. Coach Ludwig has challenged us with one of the toughest schedules in D-III men’s soccer. There is only one goal on the mind of every player on this team, and that’s to win a national championship. From the buzz and confidence that was evident during the first few days of pre-season, nothing less than a final national ranking of one will be accepted. With one more scrimmage and a week of practice, the excitement for our season opener is starting to show in everyone. Yet, we know in order to get where we want to, it’s a matter of getting better each day and taking the season one game at a time.