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Viking men’s soccer team struggles at the start of the season

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Mercer’s men’s soccer team lost again on Saturday, September 29 when they played at home against Louisburg College’s Hurricanes from North Carolina. The Hurricanes beat the Vikings 1-0. So far the Vikings have lost seven out of the 11 games they’ve played since the soccer season began in late August.

The Viking men’s team has 14 new players out of a 25 man team. The team also has a new coach, the third coach in the past three years, Widmarc Tigana Dalce, a former Vikings center midfielder who helped take the team to a National Championship in 1996.

During the first half of the Louisburg game the ball stayed close to the Vikings goal as they successfully intercepted numerous attempts by the Hurricanes to score.

According to Vikings fan Delaney Kelly from the University of Maryland, the team needs to work together more.

“They get frustrated with each other, they’re hotheads,” said Kelly.

The Vikings made multiple attempts to gain control of the ball but that didn’t seem to satisfy goalkeeper John Robert Richards as he shouted things like, “That shit ain’t gonna work,” at his teammates.

“The players are good but a lot are lazy and need to find their feet,” said Liberal Arts major and player on Mercer’s girls soccer team, Rachel Martinez.

Martinez has been to all but one of the Vikings home games and said she can see them making it to the championship.

“They are doing well with their regional games, which are the ones that count,” said Martinez.

The Hurricanes scored shortly after the second half of the game began. According to Vikings freshman Sergio Ojeda that’s when his team lost their momentum.

“We needed to keep our heads in the game after they scored, you never know what’s going to happen until the last minute of the game,” said Ojeda.

Both teams received yellow cards for rough play in the last half and the Vikings lost a second player to injury.

Fans were pleased throughout the game with Ben Asor and Sascha Haecker who both play fullback position, as they fought to keep the ball away from the Hurricanes.

According to Ojeda, the Hurricanes are one of the best teams the Vikings have played so far this season.

“We could have won, had a lot of opportunities,” said Ojeda, “We haven’t faced a team like that a lot this season, but it was a close game.”

After the game, Hurricanes forward Jacques Francois said, “[The Vikings] are hard competition, they kept us running back and forth a lot.”

According to Coach Dalce, the biggest problem his team is having so far this season is that they cannot follow through with a play and score. Numerous injuries also have slowed the men down.

“They are a good team having a bad moment,” said Coach Dalce told The VOICE.

According to Dalce, who says he came back to Mercer because he wanted to give back to the school where he got started, there are big differences in the team he used to play on and the one he coaches now.

“The players lack passion, I can tell by their body language when they are around each other,” said Dalce, “Why fight each other? Fight together.”

Vikings captain, physical education major Kelvin Flores, said it has been hard to get his teammates on track this season because a lot of them are fresh out of high school and need to get used to being on a college team.

Ojeda agreed, telling The VOICE that the key difference between playing for high school and college is that the games are more physical and you have to think a lot quicker.

Flores is concerned about team cohesion. He says he believes it will help the team play better if they can come together more off the field.

“We started going out and doing more things together to become more of a family,” said Flores.

Dalce agrees that the team needs to bond more. He said they are starting things like pasta dinners together, which is something the coach before him didn’t do.

According to Ojeda the Vikings have come a long way from pre-season to now. He says, “We have been through ups and downs and lost games together this season and that makes us stronger as a family,” said Ojeda.

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