Soccer and football plan for success
Minot State University's soccer team and football team head into the fall seasons striving for victory.
Last year's women's soccer finished its season with a record of 16-3-1 overall, winning the NSIC regular season title with a mark of 14-0-1. Football finished last year's season with a 3-8 record, an improvement from the previous season's record of 1-10. While the soccer team hopes to defend its title and become conference champions again, football hopes to carve a new road to triumph.
"Perfect! Every touch perfect," head soccer coach Jason Spain shouted during warm-ups.
Entering his eighth year of coaching at Minot State, Spain expects nothing short of perfection from his players during practice. The women match his intensity by going full force into their drills and emitting a healthy level of competition with one another.
"We have more girls that actually want to play and want to win," Kelli Creese, a senior defensive player, said about this year's team. "We have more drive on the team. There's more fight because there's more girls for each position, so everyone is playing harder and that's better for everyone all around."
Although their practices demand hard work, the women still get a kick out of the team.
"Practices have been super fun. It's what I look forward to every day," Sofia Lewis, a freshman midfielder, said.
Last year the time took their first conference title, and they seek to do even more in the coming months.
"We want to go further than we did last year," coach Spain said about their season goals. "The girls understand that winning is the only acceptable outcome."
The players share the same ambitions.
"My goal would be to win the conference and then win the conference tournament," Creese said.
Lewis reiterated the same idea, "Overall, winning everything is our team goal."
Football kicks off its season with new head coach Mike Aldrich, a valued addition to the team. In the previous season, players didn't seem as confident in their team as they do under Aldrich.
"Before (a game) we didnt' know if we were going to win or not, and now we expect to win," Ray Watkins, a senior wide receiver, said. "He's changed our mindset of the team this year."
To get to this point, Aldrich has had to make some changes to the attitudes of his players.
"The biggest things is just getting them to believe in themselves," Aldrich said. "You've got a team that hasn't had a lot of wins or successes, so it's a matter of trying to get them to win one game at a time and have fun playing football. That was something that was lacking before."
With music, whistles, and enthusiasm in the air at practice, the players seem to enjoy themselves a lot more.
"[The team] talks every day and we're like this is the most fun we've ever had playing football," Watkins said.
Aldrich also changed the atmosphere on the field.
"In the spring when I first go here, if something bad happened on the field, everybody reacted as though they were getting ready to get yelled at, or they pointed fingers to divert the blame," he said.
To combat this, Aldrich has worked to get players to understand that they should not fear failure.
"We're all going to fail at something. If we do fail, we can learn from it and we can move on. This lets them play a little freer and a little looser, which allows them to have fun and reach their potential," he said.
Aldrich plans to move forward in the season with a step-by-step strategy.
"Let's worry about winning one game at a time. We don't worry about the next one and we don't worry about the last one. If something bad happens, we're not re-hashing it and if something good happens we don't live on it. Our goal is to be 1-0 every week and we'll keep resetting that goal every Monday," he said.
The football team traveled to Concordia University, St. Paul, last week to open the season. The Beavers fell to the Golden Bears, 24-0.
Minot State opens the home portion of its schedule Saturday when it hosts Augustana at 1 p.m. in Herb Parker Stadium.
The women's soccer team defeated Black Hills State University last week in Spearfish, S.D., 6-0. All six goals came from players new to the program: Jordyn Cook, Haley Berryman, Morgan Myers, and Sofia Lewis.
The women dropped their Norther Sun Intercollegiate Conference opener, 2-1, against the University of Mary on Sunday.
The Beavers will host the Minot State Classic Friday and Sunday at Herb Parker Stadium with soccer teams from Augustana, For Hays State, and Emporia State. MSU will take on Emporia Friday at 7 p.m. and Fort Hays Sunday at 2 p.m.
Sutdents are admitted free with MSU ID to all regular season home games.