While most students are packing their bags in preparation of eating home-made dinners and watching football with their uncles, the CU men’s club soccer team has bigger plans.
The Buffs are leaving for the NCCS National Soccer Championships in Phoenix, looking to repeat their national championship win.
The CU varsity Gold team ended this year with an undefeated record of 15-0-1, their only tie being to Colorado State on Sept. 18. Coming off a vindictive 3-2 win against the Rams at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in the Rocky Mountain College Cup in early November, the Buffs have a lot of momentum going into nationals.
(CU Independent illustration/Kelly Kaoudis)
“I’m excited,” said senior Danny Whittle. “We won it last year, so there’s some pressure on us, but we have a good, young squad. I definitely want to go in there and have a good showing and try and repeat. It’s my senior year so it would be an awesome send-off, but the competition is going to be better, but I think we’ll be ready for them.”
The Gold Buffs are set to play the Texas and Cal Poly A teams on Thursday in the group rounds. If they advance, they will have to play two games on Friday, followed by two more games on Saturday in order to win another championship.
This year’s team doesn’t have a roster jam-packed with experienced seniors, but the team says what they lack in experience, they make up for in young talent.
“We’re different,” said senior club president Gunnar Ashton. “The style of play and the kind of players are different. We’ve got a lot of young players, and so it’s taken some time to mesh well. We somewhat lack in experience, but we have a lot of incredible freshmen and sophomores that are new to the program that have been driving us forward.”
There are still a lot of upperclassmen on the team too—like senior goalkeeper Dirk Van Curan, who is confident about what they can do in Arizona.
“I was injured last year so I didn’t have the benefit of being on that team,” Van Curan said. “So it’s my chance to step up and I think with the talent that we have and the way we’ve been playing, undefeated still, I think we go in with a lot of strength into nationals.”
The CU Gold team is not the only men’s team going to Phoenix to represent the university at nationals. The junior varsity Black team will also be competing in the Open Division of the tournament. They are also confident, not only in their physical capabilities on the field, but also in their mental strength.
Tuesday night inside the CU practice bubble, Black team head coach and club director Myles Lumb had instructors from Core Power Yoga come at the end of practice and introduce the boys to a new way of keeping themselves loose. They also emphasized a winning mentality within the team.
“Mental preparation and strength is a huge part of any sport, especially soccer,” Lumb said. “Especially when you’re going into knockout tournaments like this one coming up. I think not only the physical preparations that we have been working on, but also that mental boost is going to be huge and it will give us an edge over the other teams.”
Both teams are going into nationals looking for results, but there’s much more to this group than just a team. They say they are all good friends with each other.
“Considering the fact that we have 62 players on three different teams, we’ve done a good job at not creating any kind of segregation between the three,” Ashton said. “Part of what makes us so good is that everyone becomes really good friends and hangs out outside of soccer. Everybody gets along and it just works.”
The Buffs hope to use their teamwork, knowledge and mental awareness as the tournament begins Thursday morning.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Joseph Wirth at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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