By Meliyah Venerable / Delta Sports Editor
NAIA Men’s Soccer Coaches’ Top 25 Poll was released Wednesday, and Missouri Valley College men’s soccer team dropped from number one to number ten. The men started the season off ranked number one, since winning the 2020 national championship. Holding the title of number one team in the country brings a lot of high standards to uphold, and gives other teams motivation to be that top team, and to beat the top team.
“After last season winning the national championship and being the No. 1 team in the country coming into the new season is always tough because everyone is hungry to beat you,” Junior Tom Preston said. “It also creates a lot of pressure on us as a team. But as we know every season brings new players and more competition. As a team we know you have to lose some to win some.”
The team is 6-2 overall this season, but 2-2 in conference play. Losing to Park University (Mo.) and William Penn (Iowa). The team isn’t letting these two losses and the rank drop define what they want to accomplish the rest of the season.
“It’s early in the season and the conference has only just started but it’s not a good start,” Preston said, “Honestly since we lost the two games that’s when things have changed within the team for the better, everyone is now switched on and releasing what we have to do to win games. Soccer can easily go both ways. you win and lose. so reality has hit and training has been sharper, the chemistry has grown and we are now more hungry to win the upcoming games.”
The Vikings have many returning players including starting goalkeeper Dusan Milosevic and the National Player of the Year Luka Gluscevic, and All American Tom Preston. But they have lost their lead scorer from last season. Losing key players and other seniors has affected the Vikings as they work to get the team chemistry back to National Championship shape.
“I think that the biggest struggle is losing some players, seniors, that were an important part of our championship squad,” Milosevic said, “We have a lot of new guys, freshmen, that still have to adjust completely to the style we play and when they adjust we will be even stronger. The biggest strength would probably be the communication and relationship that we, as a team, have on and off the field which is really important for every successful team.”
It is still early in the season, and the Vikings have plenty of games left to hold their national title yet again. The team still has to face teams that are also ranked on the coaches poll. They will take on No.1 ranked Central Methodist (Mo.) Oct. 20.
“We lost the last two games but our team is strong and focused 100% on what is in front of us,” Milosevic said, “The season is long and we just had 2 bad games, losing some games by our mistakes. When you finish a game, it doesn’t matter if you won or lost, you have to forget it before that day is over and start focusing on your next game and that’s exactly what I did after these two losses and our team is ready for the games to come!”