St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus men’s soccer team was out on the training fields for its second practice of the day on day number five of fall training camp Wednesday afternoon. The Gusties were the first to report to camp this summer, arriving Friday, Aug. 17 during the afternoon hours.
Head Coach Mike Middleton, in his third season at the helm of the Gustie men’s soccer program, has been pleased with his club’s effort at practice thus far.
“The tempo at practice has been very good. The players have worked hard and that is what we expect from them,” said Middleton. “I like a lot what we’ve seen so far. That doesn’t necessarily mean that we will be successful, but it does mean that we have the pieces in place to challenge whoever we play.”
The Gustavus men’s soccer team was picked to finish second in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference according to the recently released MIAC preseason coaches’ poll. Last year the Gusties went 14-2-3 overall and finished third in the league standings after going 6-1-3 in conference play.
Performance is the focus of the men’s soccer team at this point. Middleton explains, “Our performance is quite good right now. Our results will depend, to some extent, on the level of competition, but right now all we can do is focus on our performance and that is looking pretty good.”
The Gusties will kick the season off with a pair of scrimmages this weekend. The team will first travel to Sioux Falls, S.D., where it will face the University of Sioux Falls on Saturday night. The Gusties will then travel back to St. Peter where they will take on St. Scholastica on Sunday afternoon.
Coach Middleton is excited for the opportunity to scrimmage a Division II opponent in the city that has given the Gustavus men’s soccer program so many student-athletes over the years.
“It will be fun for our Sioux Falls players to go back home and play in front of their friends and family,” said Middleton. “Aside from that, I would like us to get used to traveling distances as a team, our routine prior to and after games, and how we evaluate our performance.”
Gustavus will open its 2012 regular season campaign on Friday, Aug. 31 with a non-conference match against UC-Santa Cruz at 4:00 p.m. on the Gustie soccer field. The Gusties defeated the Banana Slugs last season by the score of 1-0 in Santa Cruz, Calif.
“They are bright off the field, they are bright on the field, and they are fun to be around,” concluded Middleton. “This is a great group of nice people and I don’t think you can ask for more than that.”