Under first-year head coach Javier Mejia, the Emerson College men’s soccer team has been working diligently to learn a new system of play ahead of their first conference match against MIT on Sept. 19.
Senior captain and center back Mitch Lapierre, a marketing communication major, said the new system introduced by Mejia brings a heavier focus on overall style as opposed to individual athleticism.
While six new players have joined the team, five of them freshmen, the roster of 24 also includes nine seniors and five juniors, according to the athletic department’s website. The team is 2-3 through five out-of-conference games.
Mejia applauded the team for their perseverance in the early going as he works to implement changes.
“The most impressive thing is the fact that the morale hasn’t dropped,” Mejia said.
While returning players are getting used to the new playbook, freshmen are adapting to the college game. Josh Krakowsky, a freshman right back and marketing communication major, said playing at a higher level hasn’t been too difficult yet.
“It’s actually been a pretty smooth transition, with regard to playing with kids four years older than me, and also with tactical ability,” Krakowsky said.
Because of how his birthday falls on the calendar, Krakowsky said he has always played in more advanced divisions, better preparing him for the college competition.
Mejia said he believes the team has played well on defense and while in possession of the ball, but said they could improve on switching between the two.
“We’ve been caught on the counter a couple of times,” Mejia said. “It’s how we’ve been giving up goals.”
Lapierre agreed that the team has played well defensively, adding that the team’s deep bench will help over the long season.
“We have a lot of talent across the board,” Lapierre said. “The level of play doesn’t drop at all.”
Mejia said the team needs to create more opportunities on offense. In practice, the team has worked on converting chances as they approach the goal, according to Mejia.
Mejia said he thinks his experience as a student-athlete will make a difference as the season continues. He played for Emerson from 2001-2004, and was a team captain in each of his final two seasons, both of which witnessed playoff berths for the college.
“It certainly helps, I think, for the players to know that their coach knows exactly what they are going through,” Mejia said.
Krakowsky said he was a big fan of Mejia’s coaching style.
“He definitely has the respect of all the players.” Krakowsky said. “We trust him.”