Every fall, three teams from the Great Plains Soccer Conference qualify for the regional tournament in Colorado. This year, the MSUM men’s club soccer team was one of those teams.
“It was a good experience,” said senior Fabian Trejo. “There is a better level of competition playing there than around here.”
The team drove three cars to Denver on Oct. 24 to play the Colorado School of Mines first, where they lost 4-1, and to play the University of Nebraska second, where they lost 2-0.
“Bringing the freshman and new players out to Colorado has made them a lot better,” said senior Joel Kromer. “There are a lot of division one schools and a lot larger schools than us that are competing.”
NDSU (8-0-2) and Augustana College (7-3-0) were the other teams from the Great Plains conference who went to Denver this year.
Finishing the regular season with the best records, they both received automatic bids into the tournament. The Dragons (5-3-2) who finished with the third best record were awarded with a “power bid,” along with four other teams from other conferences to be voted into the tournament.
The Dragons have qualified for the regional tournament the last four years, yet this was the first year funding was available to support the team’s trip.
Usually there is just enough money in the budget to cover referees, away game expenses and other basic needs of regular season that there is not enough left over for post-season play.
“We were able to request funds through the student advisory budget committee,” Kromer said. “They funded our travel and lodging expenses.”
MSUM’s team is one of the only ones in the league that is funded by its school, therefore reducing player fees and other expenses.
However, because fees are so low, sometimes players can be fickle about their commitment to the team.
“If we had to charge more money, we’d probably have less players,” said Kromer, who plays central defense for the Dragons. “But the other aspect of that is if you pay (a higher amount of money), you’re going to show up every day. So, I think sometimes that hurts our commitment level a little bit.”
The commitment this year was to a student-led team with 16 players for two months practicing on a new home field three times a week.
“Whoever wants to keep playing, it’s a good idea to join the club team. It’s a great experience for everybody,” said Trejo, who plays center-attacking mid. “Everyone has fun. You learn how to expect teammates because they are coaches as well.”
The team will be playing indoor club soccer and renting gym space at Nemzek Gymnasium in preparation for next season.
“It’s a serious competitive league, but at the same time we are also able to have a lot of fun. You get out of it what you put into it,” Kromer said. “It’s definitely a great team to join. Hopefully, Denver is going to be pretty regular for MSUM club soccer.”
BY MADALYN LASKE