MIAA league play kicks off today for the men’s soccer team with a match against Trine University at 4:00 p.m. Pre-conference, MIAA soccer has been more dominant than ever, and as head coach Jerry Block says when reflecting on the front runner for first place—“take your pick”.
As it stands, Calvin College remains the only MIAA team undefeated (6-0) in non-conference play. However, three teams currently present records with a single loss (Trine: 4-1, Olivet: 5-1 and Hope: 3-1-2). Though the Brits present one of the most talented rosters they have seen in a while, the same holds true for the rest of the conference.
Despite the talent of their team, the Brits, unlike most of their league opponents, have started off rather mediocre with a record of 3-3. But “It’s a whole new ball game when the conference starts” as Block says and though their record may not reflect it, there is an argument that the Brits can compete for a title this season.
There will be no freebies this season for Albion. Success will only be spelled out by how prepared they are to battle against every individual foe. Block knows that his team will not be successful if they are not fully aware of their opponent’s abilities.
“… It’s getting to a point in conference play where if you’re not ready for one game, you’re going to lose,” Block said.
The MIAA, excluding Albion, has accumulatively outscored their opponents by 24 goals to this point in the season. Defense has always been one of the Briton’s biggest strengths though. Teams are only averaging 1.3 goals per game, despite the loss of last season’s Birmingham senior goalkeeper Jordan Thomas.
As for their match today against Trine, the Britons will need to focus, as always, on their attack and minimize the damage defensively. Trine has lead the MIAA in offense, scoring 21 goals in five games pre-conference. League play is, however, a whole new ball game, and the Brits will need to come prepared to play ball tomorrow if they want a shot at the title.
Generating an offensive attack has still been problematic for the team, and will be key to a Briton victory over the Thunder. The Brits have only scored six goals this season, despite their 27 shots on goal.
Albion has done fairly well possessing the ball, but need to be more dynamic when they have an opportunity to score. Scoring on .113 percent of their shots on goal, as they have done to this point in the season, will not be enough for the Brits to be competitive in the MIAA.
“It comes more from our movement of the ball, and seeing where there is space to take,” Block said. “We’re doing a good job of possessing the ball, but we’re not penetrating when we get opportunities.”
There is a light at the end of the tunnel though, which falls on Vicksburg junior and standout scorer Jon Cannell. Cannell lead the team with six goals and 14 total points last season, but has yet to find the twine this year. He is the central figure in the team’s offense, and will need to step up in conference play for Albion to have a chance to compete for an MIAA title.