Although the calendar may read April, the spring weather has not hindered the Bradley men’s soccer team from participating in their own spring training. The Braves have played three exhibition games the past couple of weeks to prepare for the fall season.
Head Coach of the men’s team, James DeRose, commented, “Being able to use the Redshirt Freshman and injured players in live competition allows us to get a realistic analysis of performance prior to the Fall Season. Additionally it provides a great opportunity to evaluate players in positions that they will compete for.”
So far, the Braves have faced off against Western Illinois, Lewis, and Northwestern. A variety of competition give Bradley a good idea of what to expect from a Missouri Valley Conference team (Western Illinois), a large powerhouse school (Northwestern), and another small private university (Lewis).
Inclement weather shortened Bradley’s game against Western, and rescheduled it for another date. The Braves topped Lewis 2-0, but lost to Northwestern 1-0 in 60 minute contests. With these games in the book, Coach DeRose and the Braves are looking towards the future.
“With remaining Div 1 matches…we have excellent competition to gauge ourselves. That said, this is the time of year when progress and development individually and collectively is more important than winning or losing matches,” DeRose offered.
Implementing a solid offensive strategy and smart defensive strategy have already been put into action for Coach DeRose. The Braves will look to create more opportunities for scoring chances while not surrendering easy offensive chances for the opposing team.
DeRose explained, “Developing and asserting a collaborative and pressing defending mentality that is sustainable for 90 minutes…We have changed a great deal in our attacking philosophy when it comes to making a conscious effort of adding defenders into attacking areas of the field.”
Creating a sense of comradery and unity before the summer practices begin, is going to play large for the Braves. A young and talented team, Bradley has room for growth, maturity, and cohesion. Starting that process now, will play big dividends when summer training begins.
DeRose affirmed, “We are really trying hard to work out as many kinks prior to the Fall and have 75% of what we want accomplished in place prior to August…That said, I was very happy with our progress in the MVC and that is where we hope to begin.”
Although it’s only spring, the Braves have showed and are continuing to display a strong work ethic. The games may not count, but Bradley may be starting to put some MVC teams on notice. Last season was only the beginning.