Falling into place

Muhlenberg’s men’s sports teams discuss their preparedness for the upcoming fall seasons

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A review of Muhlenberg men's sports. Photos credited to Muhlenberg athletic teams' Instagram accounts.

Class is back in session, dorm rooms are filled with decorations, and the dining hall is in full force once again. The buzz from the athletic fields, courts, and courses as the Mules kick it into high gear can also be felt surging throughout campus in a much anticipated year for Muhlenberg athletics. 

The Muhlenberg men’s soccer, cross country, and football teams arrived on campus as early as Aug. 8 as part of a designated preseason period by the NCAA, while the men’s tennis and golf teams began practicing around Labor Day. Although these dates are the opening of official, organized preparation days, all of these teams’ journeys started as soon as their previous season ended. 

The men’s soccer team finished their season in the second round of the NCAA tournament after receiving an automatic bid from their 2022 Centennial Conference championship win over Johns Hopkins, the program’s first since 2014. Four seniors from last year have also decided to return for a ninth semester to defend their title alongside returning players on the resurfaced and redesigned Varsity Field. “Considering that the majority of the team from last season is back, we have a very good understanding of how each other play and mesh well on the field,” said junior captain Kevin Adams ‘25. “The new pieces who have immersed themselves in the group are starting to fit in with the team nicely and add a lot of quality on the field.” 

Any championship is something to be proud of, a collective, successful effort towards a tangible goal, but the squad is eager to continue developing. “The team is looking to start much faster than we did last year,” commented Adams. “We had a great finish to the year, but early on we lost a couple of tough games outside of conference play that set us back on our road to success. Starting with a couple of wins and positive results is the main thing we are looking to improve on this year.” 

Men’s soccer returns to Baltimore to battle Johns Hopkins in their Centennial Conference opener on Sept. 16.

In the adjacent Scotty Wood Stadium, the Muhlenberg football team aims to bounce back from a 7-4 season containing closely contested bouts, with conference rivals getting the slight edge over the Mules. Having experienced the wrong side of the outcome last year, ‘Berg Football is ready to give every last ounce in 2023. “[Last season] showed us as a group that we must earn every opportunity we have and play every down to the final whistle,” stated captain offensive tackle Zach Greenberg ‘24. “We have emphasized earning our victories every week along with playing all 60 minutes of each game, ensuring we leave it all on the field. We have good depth and are overflowing with great players who will be able to make an impact the minute they touch the field.”

Another building block for this team coming off last season is a commitment to specific values and philosophies regarding on-field competition and building strong, interpersonal connections between players. “What sets us apart from our opponents is our philosophy in practice,” added Greenberg. “We go first string versus first string every practice with the thinking being you must go against the best to become the best. To be a successful team, you must go to war with your family for 60 minutes. Entering week one, our team chemistry is the highest it’s been for a long time, with each of us fueling off one another’s success.”

The football team will look to ride the momentum of their 53-12 win over Moravian when they challenge Salisbury on Sept. 9.

Turning towards the track and surrounding West End streets, the men’s cross-country runners have been hitting the pavement and putting in the miles with race victories swirling through their minds. Spending time on runs and during strength workouts has been a highlight of their preseason experience, and the paces have been increasing since they arrived on campus, but this group is now taking their preparation to new heights. “During preseason week, the team met with a nutritionist to stress the importance of staying healthy throughout the season,” explained Mason Tran ‘25. “Along with that, the team has been focusing on listening to our bodies and making sure we address injuries as soon as we feel something.”

“you must go against the best to become the best.”

Zach Greenberg ’24

Physical and mental health have been a focal point for these Mules during their practices this summer, aiming to be in peak running form as the fall foliage emerges. The Mules will race next on Sept. 15 at the Haverford Invitational.

On the courts behind the Leffell Center for Jewish Student Life, the men’s tennis team is laying the groundwork for a uniquely competitive and enriching experience. This edition of the squad has knowledge that travels far beyond the court, ideally translating into exclusive advantages. “The culture is becoming much more of an international team,” said Josh Benson ‘24. “With recruits from outside North America, there’s a lot of learning about the way of life outside the US. We have a good unit with lots of talent and I’m very excited to see how much we can grow.”

Last but certainly not least, ‘Berg men’s golf has been working on their short games at the driving range and getting practice rounds in at Lehigh Country Club for their upcoming tournaments this fall. All sports involve a heavy dose of mental fortitude, but golf’s slower speed of play and extensive time to study shots with precision increase tension to the nth degree. “As a team, some of our goals this season are to lower the team average and play smart while making good decisions on the course,” said Captain Aron Gianchandani ‘24. “We also need to focus on the next shot, keeping our composure, and not letting our emotions take over.” 

The team is looking to apply these strategies when they open their season on Sept. 18 at the Fairleigh Dickinson Invitational. This event is circled on their calendar as many golfers know the course well and look to use that to their advantage.

As things continue ramping up for these teams and athletes, consider attending an event to cheer on the Mules. Energy and noise from the sidelines go a long way toward intensity, emotion, and victory for all Muhlenberg athletic teams.

Evan is a media and communication major minoring in creative writing and journalism with a passion for sports writing as well as soccer, being outdoors and spending time with close friends and family. He is eager to continue learning about and tinkering with writing while learning from the talented Weekly staff.

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