Last Friday night, the Men’s soccer team pulled out a big upset against nationally-ranked #11 University of Chicago with a final score of 1-0. Joe Bean Stadium erupted when freshman midfielder Nicholas Gaines sent a beautiful header into the back of the net with two minutes left to play. Moments after the final whistle, President Philip Ryken proclaimed victoriously from his usual spot in the top corner of the bleachers, “That was a really big win!”
The Thunder were able to showcase the depth of their talent against University of Chicago as multiple freshmen made a huge impact in the crucial moments of the game. When asked about head coach Jake DeClute, Gaines replied, “He tells us that he has confidence in us… It helps tremendously because it takes away a lot of nerves knowing that your coach believes you can get the job done.”
Gaines was the first freshman to score a goal for the Thunder this season, but certainly not the only freshman with solid playing time and a plethora of opportunities. Almost every player on the roster has had the opportunity to gain some significant playing time so far this season. As the men’s soccer team competes daily to earn playing time, the results are starting to speak for themselves.
DeClute boasts a deep roster and says that he maintains a simple formula for the team in how he determines who plays for each position, “Be great in training every day and be better than the guys who play your position plus helping the team win equals playing time.”
This Tuesday at Joe Bean Stadium, the Thunder dismantled Greenville College 4-0 as senior forward Marshall Hollingsworth netted a beautiful hat trick, including an unassisted goal off of a corner kick, and sophomore forward Josh Greene scored his first goal of the season. The Thunder improved to 6-2-1 and have quietly climbed back into the national rankings as they end the week ranked #22.