The new semester started a bit earlier for some fall sports, such as the men’s soccer team, which arrived at Yale earlier in August to prepare for their upcoming season.
Players began their preseason training on Aug. 12 with the first captain’s practice — but this was not the beginning of their training. Since the hiring of Kylie Stannard, the men’s soccer team’s new head coach, at the end of the 2014 season, the team has been preparing differently than in years past.
“We have a new coach, and so the team has a different outlook, style and dynamic going into the season,” defenseman and midfielder Ollie Iselin ’18 said. “Coach Stannard brings fantastic coaching pedigree as well as a different mentality.”
Coming from an associate head coach position at Michigan State, a top program that has made five NCAA tournament appearances in the six years that he was there, Stannard is hoping to help turn around the Bulldog program after last year’s disappointing 1–13–3 season.
Aug. 21 marked the first day of the preseason, but this was not the beginning of training for the team. Players have been working with coaches since the end of last season to strengthen both the physical and mental aspects of their game. They were expected to complete a tough summer workout plan in order to be ready for their season when they returned to campus in the middle of August.
Not only has the training been tough physically, but the team has been focusing on its mental game as well. Sports psychologist Brian Cain, who has worked with other Yale sports teams, spent time with the players, emphasizing visualization, confronting fear and core values for the team.
The Yale soccer program will be able to showcase their improved squad this coming weekend, as their preseason kicks off with Sacred Heart on Friday and Fairleigh Dickinson on Sunday. After a tough month of training, the team is still treating each game with the same level of importance.
“We are preparing for those games like any other game,” Iselin said. “We are obviously excited for the season to begin, but we shouldn’t hype them up too much, as they are just two games that will prepare us for the season and the upcoming Ivy schedule.”
Aside from all their hard work on the field, the upperclassmen have been integrating the freshmen into their program in order to help bring the team together.
“It is so helpful to have a group of mentors and friends to make the transition to college more manageable,” midfielder Lucas Kirby ’19 said. “I love all of the boys, and I am so happy that I will get to spend a good portion of my time in college playing and studying alongside them.”
Forward Keith Bond ’16 added that the team is anxious for the regular season to start so they can see tangible results.
With expectations high, both from the coaching staff and from the players themselves, Yale soccer has the opportunity to have a strong fall season.
The team plans to continue to work hard to move in the direction they want to go as the preseason begins this weekend, and despite the dismal campaign the Bulldogs had a year ago, team members are optimistic.
“Yale soccer is making a comeback, and I am honored to be a part of it,” Kirby said.
The Bulldogs will first take the field against Sacred Heart on Sept. 4 at 7 p.m.