Men’s soccer captain Alex Guzinski ’09 sits down with the News to discuss preseason progress and the team’s outlook for the fall. The Elis finished 4-8-5 overall last year, with a 2-3-2 Ivy League record.

Q What is the team’s preseason mood like?

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A I think it has been great. Our team is very optimistic. We’ve put a lot of hard work in, but the tough practices have brought our team together. Going through something difficult brings a team together. We’re all doing it together, so it draws us closer to each other. Knowing that you’ve put in so much time also draws you nearer to the goal of an Ivy League Championship.

Q Describe your least favorite drill over the past couple of weeks.

A I don’t really have one. We don’t typically do the same thing, but the Cooper Test [two miles in under 12 minutes] and the beep test on the same day were tough. I enjoy playing five-on-five small-sided games. It makes you break down the fundamentals and it shows individual strengths and weaknesses. I also like getting the chance to shoot on goal.

Q Nine starters return from last year. How confident is this team and what are your goals?

A The expectation is to win the Ivy League. I definitely think our team can do that this year. We’re a very deep team with a lot of talent. Everyone on the team thinks this is a year we can win the whole thing.

Q The team got off to a crippling 0-4 start last year. Does experience play a major part in a good start?

A I think it definitely does. We’ve been through the troubled times, but we’re better for going through that. We learned a lot of lessons from last year, and we’ll do everything in our power not to repeat what happened last year.

Q As a captain, does the team’s experience make your job easier?

A Definitely. Having a strong leadership base is important. The senior class is definitely an important class. They’ve been leading since day one. The underclassmen look up to every single one of the seniors.

Q The team is once again playing a very tough schedule this year, with two defending conference champions — Boston College and UConn — in the middle of the Ivy League season. Do you think this helps the team, or can it possibly tire it out?

A In some ways it’s nice to have the schedule mixed up — it changes the rhythm of the season. Playing nationally ranked teams like UConn and BC is fun. You’re going for that upset. These teams have built great programs with great histories.

Q You scored the game-winning goal last year in a 1-0 victory against Army on a short-range free kick, which is pretty rare for defenders. When did you start taking free kicks, and have you always taken them for Yale?

A From further out, I’ve generally taken them. Long shots are my strength. I’ve had a pretty good shot since coming here.

Q So then what prompted you to take the shorter free kick against Army?

A It was just a feeling.

Q What has the team learned last season? Do any games stand out as particularly important?

A It’s clear there were a lot of close games last year that we could — or should — have won. It takes a split second in a game to win or lose. It makes it that much more important to stay focused. If we can play smart and stay focused, I think we can win a lot of games this season. The Harvard game [a 4-0 loss at home on the last day of the season] left a sour taste in our mouths. In some ways, it stood for a symbol of how we need to improve. Since that game, the whole team has been ready to get back on the field and prove themselves.

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