The night before the game against Chapel Hill, even though the East men’s soccer team had already been riding a wave of wins, there was no slacking off in practice. Sure, because this is East, as I was watching their warm ups there was an intense discussion of the rhetorical triangle at the same time as the wind sprints, but even when the coach said that anybody could take a break when they need to, nobody slowed down.
Though they lost to Chapel Hill in the conference finals, it was somewhat unexpected that a team who saw 14 players graduate last year could be so successful. So how did this team manage a win loss record of 11-2 in the conference?
“We’ve increased our team chemistry,” senior Ali Hajirahim said.
The idea of team chemistry I heard over and over again, from the players individually and the team discussions. In hearing their strategy discussions, it became clear that they value working as a single unit on the eld.There’s never any mention of an “I” or “you,” only “we”.
That team chemistry didn’t just mean working hard to play, but a genuine sense of enjoyment amongst the team. They seemed to actually like each other a lot, and many players mentioned that as well.
“We have better senior leadership than other years, and just a different vibe. We all like each other, and we can always have fun as a team,” junior Ryan Levy said.
No fantastic team could be complete without a dedicated coach as well, and East was no exception. Austin Collins has been the head coach for East men’s soccer for eight years, and was deeply impressed with this year’s team.
“If you had told me at the start of the season that some of the players could have progressed to where they are now, I wouldn’t have thought that could be the case,” Collins said. “We knew we were going to be an underdog team, but they’ve worked so hard all season.”
By Julia Cummer, Sports Editor