‘Berg football grounded by loss

Loss against Ursinus Bears is a much-needed reality check for program

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The Football Team celebrating during the game on September 26, 2021. Photo by Joe Romano '23

Last Saturday, Sept. 18, the Muhlenberg College football team suffered their first regular-season loss against the Ursinus College Bears. The game came down to the final minutes and the Mules were unable to prevail, resulting in a crushing defeat 42-35. This is their first non-playoff loss since 2018 against Johns Hopkins University— a 14 regular-season game winning streak. The Mules dropped significant ranking in the national DIII polls, from the eighth-ranked team to the 24th. 

Running back Ethan Brader ‘23 expressed the team’s initial reactions to their loss against Ursinus. “This hit the team hard. For me in particular, it just left a bad taste in my mouth. It did not sit well with me or most of the guys for the next week, but this definitely motivated us to work even hard[er] and to be more prepared than our opponents. The effort was there, we just needed to execute and stay constant. There were too many ups and downs,” he said.

Heading into the bulk of their Centennial Conference matchups, the group needs to scratch and claw if they want a chance at another conference championship. The Mules’ head coach, Nate Milne, still stands with immense belief in his team. “The key for us is to be very process-oriented and stay true to the course,” said Milne. 

Milne was very specific on where the team needed to be stronger, “focus on fundamentals. I think we need to have a bit better focus in practice, and more attention to detail in order to be successful,” he said. 

Along with Milne, Brader felt that the team was “practicing too lackadaisical with little focus and made too many mistakes. We didn’t have too sharp of practices the week before and it translated to how we played.” 

At the team’s first practice the Monday following the loss, Coach Milne’s message to his team was “10 percent of life is what happens to you and 90 percent is how you respond,” Milne said. “I told them that we need to make the most of each moment since it was taken away from us back in 2020.” 

Milne’s players were on the same page. Defensive captain Nicolas Sirico ‘22 expressed, “We’re never as good as we think we are and we’re never as bad as we think we are. Obviously, we’re not the exact same team as we were in 2018-19. However, we have some returning guys, but we have lots of new faces in the locker room and we have to focus on how we can improve day in and day out.”

Sirico emphasized what his coach has been reiterating all along. “We just need to focus ourselves on how we can improve every single day and take it game by game. We’re trying to go 1-0 every single week. Our sport, we only play once a week [compared to] other sports you play 2-3 times a week. We need to win everyday at practice and when Saturday game day hits,” said Sirico. 

“We just have to stick together as a team and stay constant. Our biggest thing is just to focus on the little things; that’s what we lacked in the game against Ursinus. We need to dial those in during practice and perfect them to the best of our abilities,” said Brader.  

With nine games remaining in the regular season, the Mules have put the loss behind them and have all their focus on the present.

The team recovered with a 23-0 victory over the McDaniel College Green Terror the following week, Sept. 25. “It was a great bounce back. It was exactly what we were looking for,” Sirico said. The team looks to continue this newfound form when they travel to compete against the Gettysburg College Bullets on Oct. 2. 

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