The Muhlenberg men’s soccer team ended their regular season with a 2-1 home victory on Oct. 30 against the Gettysburg College Bullets. With the win, the Mules improved their overall winning record of in- and out-of-conference play to 7-7-2.
Within the Centennial Conference, they struggled mightily with a total 2-6-1 record. However, their season is not done yet. The team has recently been selected to join the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) tournament, a smaller tournament compared to the NCAA DIII tournament. Their first match will be played on Nov. 13 against the Alvernia University Golden Wolves. If they win, they’ll play the winners of Springfield vs. Rutgers-Camden on Nov. 14. The championship round is scheduled for the following weekend against the winner of the opposite side of the bracket.
While the ECAC tournament was not their preseason goal, they are still excited to prove themselves and hopefully come out on top by tournament’s end.
“We are coming off a strong win against Gettysburg in the conference finale. We feel like we have the momentum on our side,” said midfielder Phillip Bell ‘22. “Set pieces are something that we have not been the strongest at this season, so we definitely are going to be working on that this week in practice.”
Chris Richards ‘23 spoke on what he wanted to improve upon for the ECAC tournament. He said, “Individually, I’ve been trying to increase my speed of play and positioning so I can do what the team needs of me. The COVID break definitely played a factor in the execution of some of my goals for this season, but I’ve been trying to prioritize fitness and making sure I’m doing the little things right to ensure I get back on track for the end of the season.”
While Bell was excited to end the season on a positive note, he is looking forward to playing in the ECAC tournament. “We are definitely looking forward to having the opportunity to play more soccer. I think the ECAC gives us a chance to prove to other teams, and more importantly, ourselves, that we are better than our record shows,” Bell said.
Richards also described the team’s mindset heading into their first ECAC match against Alvernia University. “We are going into this tournament with every intention to come back with some hardware. We’ve had a great season this year in terms of personnel, we’ve just gotten unlucky down the stretch in some games which has put us at a disadvantage. But regardless of our record, we still have a chance to go out with a win and build for next year, so with that in mind we are all in for the next two weeks. The team is excited to prove that our record or our season is not an accurate reflection of the talent and potential this team has,” Richards said.
Since Bell is a senior, his tenure as a member of the ‘Berg soccer team will end after the conclusion of the tournament. “It means the world to me that I am able to step on the field again with my teammates, who over the course of the season became my brothers,” he said.
It is evident how impactful the soccer team has had on Bell’s identity during his time at Muhlenberg, and that he will never forget the memories and relationships that he formed.
Richards reflected on the lessons and encouragement that he and his fellow teammates have learned from their coaching staff. He said, “Our entire coaching staff has reminded our team that not every team gets the chance to play in the postseason, so when the opportunity presents itself, it can’t be something that we don’t take seriously. Any chance to play more games in a season is only going to benefit our squad moving forward. [Head Coach] Topping ‘98 has lit a fire underneath our team by getting everyone excited to play and defend our title as ECAC champs in 2019.”