By Todd Thomas
The Falcons suffered a season-ending loss in the second round of the playoffs, but the team is already focused on what they need to do next season, as they continue to build the soccer program at Truman.
After going 3-6 last season, the Falcons improved to 10-3-2 but missed out on a trip to the national finals with a 3-2 overtime defeat to Waubonsee in the Region 1V quarterfinals. The loss put an end to their post-season dreams, and it was also the last game in a Truman uniform for the sophomores.
“All of us wanted to win – to go to Texas to Nationals,” said sophomore defender Javier Junco, as he reflected on the final game of the season. “It was a very emotional game, but our whole team is a family, and we don’t give up.”
There was no denying that the loss hurt, but defender Alejandro Lopez said he wouldn’t let it get the best of him: “Even after the game we were all still motivating each other to keep doing what we love to do. The loss motivated me as a person, because it’s not pain [but] more motivation to never feel that feeling again.”
Because they won so many games, the Falcons will move to the more competitive Premier League next season, so there isn’t much time to bask in this year’s success before preparation begins for the stiffer competition they’ll face.
“Next season is going to be at a different level,” said goalkeeper Gabriel Gutierrez. “We’ll have to train more to get our mentality right and get focused on the harder teams we’re going to be facing. Even if the season is over we have to still practice in the offseason – go to the gym and keep that momentum and feel the ball on your feet every day.”
Goalkeepers can sometimes be overlooked on the soccer field, as they tend the net out of the spotlight. But head coach Archie Wright maintains that defense wins games, and goalies are the final line of defense that should be respected as much as the other positions.
“For me and most soccer coaches, goalkeeper is the most important position – hands down,” Wright said. “If we didn’t have a good goalkeeper we would have lost half of our games. Before the season started goalkeeper was the first position I recruited for.”
Gutierrez also thinks his position is critical on the soccer field: “People say that goalies don’t do that much work – that they don’t run. But I think being a goalkeeper is important because you’re the last man that’s gonna protect the goal. It’s a hard job, and an important role in soccer.”
With this year’s success, the struggles that Truman’s soccer team endured in previous years seem like the distant past. And now that they’ve proved that they can compete, they have an opportunity to keep building a better team. They have at least nine probable returning players, but still it won’t be easy.
“It’s going to be harder,” said goalkeeper Edhem Buzaljko. “But we did earn it so we could compete on a higher level. We have to keep our heads and know we can compete in the Premier Division.”