Tough road schedule produces valuable lessons
For Malone’s men’s soccer team, finding success in its 50 season has not been easy. With the majority of the first half the season being played on the road and a young team outside its familiar surroundings, finding ways to win has been difficult.
However, make no mistake, this young team has shown flashes of brilliance. The season opener win over Slippery Rock was a dominating performance and the following game at Walsh in a hostile environment proved that this young team has promise. The biggest test is learning how to win on the road.
“We’re learning as a team how to finish, how to finish our individual moments, how to finish our collective moments, how to finish a game. At the end of the day, to be in a tight game with a good team is where you want to be,” said head coach Brian Stock.
The Pioneers want to gain momentum when they return for home games in the second half of the season and learn from the trials of their current road schedule.
“My assistant says it very well: ‘You have to embrace the grind.’ You’re not entitled to anything at this level, and you have to work for anything you get. We certainly strive for and try to cultivate those moments where our learning curve accelerates,” said Stock.
“The grind” has provided Malone with a chance to make the postseason as one of six teams from the conference. For Malone, it is all about adapting when things break down outside of the style they want to play. This emerges from learning from the early struggles on the road and being ready to make adjustments that make the difference in getting solid results on the pitch.
“Being at home is going to allow us to play in our comfort zone. The youth is going to be given more opportunities and they’re going to have to take advantage of that. Just being at home is going to be crucial,” said senior forward Nick Astalos.
When the team is back on home soil, knowing their surroundings and adapting will be essential in changing the results.
The Pioneers are looking for ways to win games even when it is hard. This includes embracing the hard work when it comes to getting the job done.
“Consistency will be a key for us and as many goals. [We need to] be a little more confident [with] the ball towards the end of the season,” said senior defender Brock Venman. “We need to make the tournament. I think anything can happen once you make it to the tournament.”
Despite the young team’s struggles with road games, they continue to “embrace the grind” as they return home to fight for a spot in the tournament.
Seth Byrd is a staff writer for The Aviso