Last season, the ASU men’s soccer club reached the conference championship game; a great feat on its own, but it was unable to put the game away and lost on penalty kicks to rival UA.
Coach Eisa Shamroukh said he is determined to take the team back to the conference championship game and beyond.
“It starts with me and coach Abdullah,” Shamroukh said. “We’re going to have to be better in managing the game.”
After a week of open tryouts to fill spots on the team, Shamroukh has just two practices to get his team on the same page before they play New Mexico Tech, Sept. 7 in Socorro, N.M.
It’s a challenge that Shamroukh and the team must accept in order to get to where they want to be at the end of the season
The club will leave Arizona on Saturday morning at 6 a.m., drive six hours to New Mexico, play the game against the Miners, and then drive another 90 miles to Texas for the game on Sunday against University of Texas at El Paso.
The team will rely on the upperclassmen to lead a new group of players back to the conference championship game.
One of those returning players is sophomore Chris Lacayo, who is also the vice president of the club in his second year with the team.
Lacayo said he is excited to get back to dominating the conference.
“I really got close to a lot of the older players and really enjoyed the traveling experience,” Lacayo said.
Lacayo said the team is excited to get the season started with a win against New Mexico.
“We want to crush every team,” he said. “We want to go out and just dominate.”
A lot will also be expected from the new players on the team, Lacayo said.
“I’m really confident in all the new recruits we got,” Lacayo said. “I think they’re all great. We picked them for a reason.”
Junior Sam Hadley is one of the players to make the cut after last weeks open tryouts, and he said he knows he will be expected to jump in and contribute.
“I feel like I’m here to prove myself, work hard and hopefully get some playing time,“ Hadley said.
The new players will get a chance to play on Saturday as Shamroukh said he expects to play everyone.
“Everyone knows it’s an open roster,” Shamroukh said. “You have to prove yourself.”
Shamroukh said that New Mexico Tech is not the best team in the conference, but that its field is small and it isn’t an easy team to beat at home.
“They’re just physical,” he said. “They are the most physical team we play. Any fifty-fifty ball, you either drop or it’s a foul. Those guys don’t joke around.”
Shamroukh said he is not overlooking New Mexico Tech but is more concerned about the game against UTEP, as it is the only loss the men’s team suffered last season in conference play.
“They are one of the dirtiest teams I’ve ever played or coached against,” he said. “They don’t allow for momentum, they foul a lot and they complain to the ref a lot.”
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