The MSU Mustangs have a bit of a chip on their shoulder in the upcoming season after getting cut short in the playoffs last year, but this only fueled the three time Heartland Conference Champions to work even harder.
“It was rough last year doing so well, but not getting too far. This year I promise you this, it’s going to be different. We’ve got a different mentality this year, a different attitude. More hunger. There was always hunger there, but there’s something different. Something extra about this year,” said Dylan Burke.
“To be honest, last year was all talk really. We talked about how good we were. We talked about how we could win a championship. We brought the players that said they were good, but at the end of the day we didn’t do what we had to do, so we weren’t good. This year we are backing up the talk. This year we realize that we aren’t as good as we say we are, and if we want to be as good as we say we are, we have to prove it. We go out there and work everyday for 90 minutes. We work for the brothers on your left and on your right and you just prove everyday why you deserve to be the best,” said Koby Sapon-Amoah.
The Mustangs welcome nine new players to this years roster. Head Coach Michael Meachum said there will be a few changes this year including a more attacking offense.
“Last year we had a group that liked to talk, but didn’t always like to perform the way they could have. They weren’t quite tough enough in the tough moments. So I think we have kind of addressed that issue. We’ve got some guys that have a little bit better mentality of the way we do things and that sort of stuff. I think we have some goals in this team, were maybe last year we didn’t have as many goals, not as many goals scored as we could’ve had. But I think we have addressed that issue as well and brought in a couple guys that we feel could score some goals and effect that end of the field just as much as defensively we hold people tight,” said Michael Meachum.
Last season, the Mustang defense held their opponents to only 9 goals out of the 14 conference games played sporting a six game win streak at one point in the season.
“Since my time here, like even last year, we’ve had some great defenders, but individually we have all been good. It’s just something that we get out there. We click. We spend our time in preseason getting to know each other a lot and what not. It’s competitive out here. When the strikers don’t score, we get on their back. When we get lazy they get on our back. They push us as much as we push them,” said Dylan Burke.
“This is the Midwestern way. This is what we do. This is how we’re successful, and if you’re not successful. There’s a lot of people who are going to be very very upset. We lose three games a season and everyone’s like, “What happened to those guys?” And some teams when three games a season and thats the best season they’ve ever had, so its a lot of pressure, but you gotta learn to deal with it. It’s what makes champions,” said Koby Sapon-Amoah.
MSU has a large senior class, including Koby and Dylan who both bring a lot of talent and personality to the team.
“Two different types of people. Two different types of players. Dylan came in with a little bit more of a professional background coming in from Europe. That will help a lot, and Koby’s personality just makes the team better. He probably gets on a lot of people because he talks a lot and he gets at it, but the thing is, he’s a great teammate. They’re both great teammates. They’ll do anything. They’ll compete everyday. They push each other. They push the group,” said Michael Meachum.
“First day of classes means the end of two-a-days, so that’s always a good thing. Get closer to our degree and stop running as much, so I’m always excited about that,” said Koby Sapon-Amoah.
“Out here, we have a lot of fun. We do. But there’s just that little bite that we have that we want it. We want each challenge. We go into each match hungry. Just looking to do the best we can do, and not settling for less and through the defenders, midfielders, and attackers. You will see it throughout the season that nobody is going to take anything for granted,” said Dylan Burke.
A new year, a new mindset, and a new goal, or several goals, await in 2019. And the MSU men’s soccer team won’t take any of it for granted.