The MBU men’s soccer team capped off its regular season with a bang, advancing to the American Midwest Conference Tournament.
Photo by Vladymi Joseph
The Missouri Baptist University men’s soccer team has ended the regular season with an overall record of 6-11, 4-7 in conference games, advancing to the AMC tournament.
Having a rough start at the beginning of the season the Spartans suffered key losses in conference to Lindenwood University-Belleville, Harris-Stowe University and Central Baptist College.
The group of young men picked up the intensity to make a final push for the playoffs toward the end of the season.
Jacob Alvernia, in his third year as head coach of the Spartans, was pleased by the performance of the team toward the end of the season.
“The guys fought through adversity to make an improbable run at the end to make the playoffs,” said Alvernia.
Alvernia also noticed something special about the team this year.
“Every team is different in some way, but this team has more quality depth than in past years,” said Alvernia. “This makes it easy for guys sitting on the bench to complain about playing time and that can disjoint a team sometimes.”
Alvernia found that it was hard to get wins at the beginning of the season.
“We had a lot of quality players and the first part of our season we struggled for wins. We were both unlucky and self-destructing at times with our defense,” said Alvernia.
Toward the end of the season things turned around for the Spartans.
The team defeated St. Louis College of Pharmacy, 10-0, to win its first conference game of the season.
“After the St. Louis College of Pharmacy game, belief started to settle into the team and we finished the season playing very good ball,” said Alvernia.
The success continued as the Spartans went on to defeat Freed-Hardeman and Williams Baptist College.
True freshman Joshua Phillips, a forward with seven goals and two assists on the season, one of the top scorers on the team, found some challenges in his first year at the college ranks.
“My first college soccer experience has been both stressful and exhilarating,” said Phillips.
Even though Phillips had mixed feelings about his first season as a Spartan his teammates made it memorable for him.
“The team has made the experience very memorable for me by how much effort they put into everything and how much support they give,” said Phillips.
Attacking midfielder Gerardo Espinoza, in his second season with the Spartans, is tied with fellow teammate Phillips with seven goals on the season, also adding four assists.
“We have so many individual players who are technically great players and playing as a team makes us outstanding and a hard team to beat,” said Espinoza. “Towards the end of the season we were playing amazing. We did the impossible and made it to the playoffs.”
Senior defender and team captain Chad Otec anchored the defense this season by helping the Spartans defend their goal.
Otec played his final season and thought the team’s performance could have been better.
“Overall I feel like we did not reach our full potential this season,” said Otec.
Experiencing a roller coaster season, Otec was satisfied that the team picked up the work rate late in the season.
“The start of conference was dreadful but the last couple of weeks of the season were as exciting and enjoyable as I could have wanted,” said Otec.
In the final game of the season the Spartans took on Lyon College to make a push for the playoffs to secure the last spot in the AMC tournament.
Tyler Lewis, a freshman midfielder, helped beat Lyon College by scoring the game-winning goal that carried the Spartans to postseason.
“There was a lot of stuff going through my mind when I scored the game winner against Lyon,” said Lewis, who had one of his best moments during that game. “It was one of the greatest feelings to come off the bench from injury and make a difference in the game like I did that day.”
The men’s soccer team experienced a long hard-fought season, but overcame all odds to make what seemed to be impossible toward the end of the season and clinched the final spot in the AMC tournament.