Young Defender soccer team finds first win

Dayna Wichhart— Staff Writer 

On Saturday, Sept. 18, the Dordt men’s soccer team listened to music in their locker room, readying their minds before their game against Bethany Lutheran. Still without a notch in the win column, the team hoped to end their season-long losing streak against their opponent. The Defenders entered the afternoon game at 0-5-2 and Bethany Lutheran at 1-2.

After forty-five scoreless minutes, the team needed to pull together for the second half.

“The first half, we did start well, and we were kind of disorganized,” said freshman midfielder Santiago Carvajal. “We talked with the coaches about how we can do better and fix our mistakes.”

Sixteen minutes into the second half, freshman Phil Appelt broke the scoreless game. However, Bethany Lutheran allowed little time for celebration as they answered back with a goal less than a minute later. With the score tied 1-1, the Defenders needed to score if they wanted to secure their first win of the season.

After a couple shots on the Bethany goal, including a strike that bounced around the crossbar, the Defenders were determined to put another point on the board. 

A corner kick by Dordt sent the ball bouncing around heads until senior defender CJ Schulz found the ball. He put the ball in the net and pushed Dordt ahead. Dordt needed to survive a six and a half minutes of the game to earn their first win. Bethany Lutheran had a few attempts at the goal, but sophomore goalkeeper Brandon Hansen stopped every attack, and the time expired with the Defenders on top, 2-1. 

The fans and players on the field erupted into cheers to celebrate the team’s first victory. 

“It’s good to finally catch a break,” said head coach Ryan Gresse. “We came off some previous games of losing in overtime or in the final minutes. We scored late, and that was great.”

Despite the happiness the players felt from finally getting a win, it was evident the team holds themselves to a high level of play. 

“I feel like this game wasn’t our cleanest,” said Hansen. “The fact that the result was different is what we care about right now, the process just needs to be better and cleaner.”

After graduating eight seniors from the 2020 roster, the Defender team is quite young. With only two seniors and five juniors, the team consists mostly of freshman and sophomores. 

“The big change has been attitude,” Hansen said. “Coach Gresse and Bourdo have done a great job getting guys in who care.” 

Despite the team’s youth and lack of experience, what is important to the coaches and students is that they have the best eleven players out on the field regardless of their age. Not only is the team young, but there are many international students  on the roster. 

“We are adapting to the game, playing styles, and rules,” said Carvajal, an international student from Colombia. “You can see in the results; we are getting better.”

As the season progresses, the team has two main goals in mind. 

“One is five GPAC wins,” said Hansen. “The GPAC is just starting up and we need to hit five wins to hit our playoff goal and get a favorable seed.”

The GPAC, or Great Plains Athletic Conference, plays at a high level and consists of twelve NAIA schools in the Midwest—including Dordt.

Hansen said their second goal as a team was “really just striving together to get better every game. We are a young team, so we are working to figure that out game to game, and week to week.”

As the team looks forward to the next games on the schedule, they have a focus not only on the game but also on who they play for. 

“I play for my family, for Dordt, and for my brothers on the field,” said Hansen.

The Dordt men’s next home matchup comes against the Midland University Warriors at 3:15 p.m. on Sept. 25.

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