Fall sports are starting to bloom in the winter season as men’s soccer is set to officially kick off Feb. 26.
The Truman State University Bulldogs finished with a 7-8-2 record last season, and have not played a match since Nov. 3, 2019 which was a victory against Lindenwood University.
Head Coach Duke Cochran is entering his 16th season at the helm, and the grizzled veteran coach laid out the season plan for his team.
“To make the top half of our conference is no easy feat,” Cochran said. “However, the expectation is finishing with a winning record.”
The men’s program has not produced a winning season since joining the GLVC in 2013, but the head coach is no stranger to winning.
Cochran said the team has great chemistry and energy flowing ahead of its season opener.
“I’m excited to let this group play against someone other than themselves,” Cochran stated. “This team is ready to make its mark and produce a winning season.”
Cochran said outdoor practices are as socially distanced as possible so masks are not mandatory, but indoor practice requires a mask at all times.
COVID-19 protocols are in place for the GLVC’s level two sports, which revolve around outdoor athletics, to keep games as safe as possible.
Midfielder Andy Brennan is entering his third season at Truman State University, coming off of 15 starts in all 15 appearances last season as a junior.
Brennan described what he expects to achieve this season, citing team success as the focus.
“Whether it’s scoring goals or being more of a defensive player, I try to provide what my team needs from me,” Brennan said.
The dynamic midfielder finished with three goals and three assists in 2019, with nine shots on goal in total.
Brennan described his expected role on the team as a player who can contribute to both ends of the pitch.
“Coach knows that I will fulfill either role that is asked of me, but I expect to be involved more offensively in our attack this season,” Brennan said.
The team this year features just three seniors on the pitch, creating leadership opportunities to be fulfilled by the junior class.
Brennan expressed that the juniors on the squad have started to shoulder some of the leadership roles, and this will be pivotal to the team’s success.
Center back Will Clayton, also a junior, has been a stable part of the starting lineup in his first two seasons.
Clayton has had the top minutes played the past two seasons for Cochran, being the solidified defender for the team.
“I look forward to using my experience at my position to be a strong defensive player,” Clayton said. “My role also extends to keeping our team informed on the pitch.”
The layover between seasons was certainly not ideal for the team, but Clayton explained how the extra time allowed for the team mesh.
Team morale is high, Clayton said, and the freshman class has also fit in well with the rest of the team.
“The time off gave us a chance to really establish our goals for the season,” Clayton said. “Everybody is buying into the idea of being a strong team.”
The Bulldogs’ hopes and aspirations will be on the table beginning Friday at 2:30 as they take on Missouri University of Science & Technology at Bulldog Soccer Park.