High hopes for NU’s men’s soccer team

After eight consecutive victories, the Norwich University Men’s Soccer team was looking to maintain its first place spot in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference by continuing the season with a strong work ethic and playing consistently, say the team’s players.
So far this season NU men’s soccer, “is doing better than expected especially after losing a lot of key guys last year,” said Derek Morin, 21, a senior athletic training major and midfielder on the team from South Paris, Maine. “We have had a lot of newcomers (this year) and they have blended in pretty well chemistry wise,” Morin said.

“We lost quite a few seniors last year,” explained goalkeeper Christian Hallstrom, 21, a senior mechanical engineering major from Las Vegas, Nev. He was named GNAC Goalkeeper of the Week on Oct. 14.

Before the season “we didn’t really know where we were going to be,” added Hallstrom.

“Last year we were in second place at this time,” said Ludovic Kamga, 20, a junior business management major and striker on the team from Paris, France. Kamga added that the ultimate goal right now is to, “be better than last year because you always want to improve year by year.” The hope is the improvements will lead to a GNAC championship, Kamga said.

After eight straight wins, however, the team faced off against Johnson and Wales on Oct. 13 in a pivotal GNAC matchup. With an overall 10-3-1 record, Norwich liked it chances but was dominated by Johnson & Wales and took a 1-0 loss. The Rivier played the Cadets to a 0-0 tie, leaving them 2nd in the GNAC behind Johnson & Wales.

Some tough opponents have prepared the team, said Kamga. On Sept. 10, Norwich clashed with a nationally recognized Middlebury team, which resulted in a 4-0 loss for the Cadets. “Some players need to be taken out of their comfort zone at times,” said Kamga, adding that, “playing solid teams is definitely a plus for everyone.” Middlebury was a very tough opponent as they are one of the top 25 teams in the country, Kamga explained.

“The toughest game so far this year was against Lasell,” Hallstrom said. The game ended in a 2-1 victory for the Cadets. “It’s a tough environment, and getting a win on that field is big time,” said Hallstrom.

Another hard GNAC opponent was Albertus Magnus, said Morin.“They are very tough at home and have been a nemesis of ours in the past,” he said.

The team is no stranger to success in the GNAC. “In the past we have been successful going to the (GNAC) semi-finals and championship,” Morin said. But in order to maintain that success “we must play to our full potential in each half, and remain consistent throughout every game,” according to Morin.

“We have a lot of smart players and a good work ethic,” Morin said. Along with good team chemistry, Morin added, “We stick to what we are good at within our playing style.”

While the team is enjoying a good season, there can be a few glitches that can derail success, Morin said. “We’ve had a few injuries this year that we have dealt with,” Morin explained, noting the team’s leading scorer has been dealing with an injury.

The Cadets hope to fend off Mount Ida in another key GNAC matchup that will take place on Oct. 25 at 4 p.m. at Norwich.

Currently in 2nd place, the Cadets look to continue to solidify themselves as a GNAC power. Kamga is enthusiastic about how well the team has played together.

“If everyone gives a piece of themselves for the team when we put it together, there will be nothing better than that,” Kamga explained. Kamga added that “the worst thing that can happen to us is to not lose, but to stop working and believing in ourselves, especially throughout tough games.”

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