Men's soccer kicks off 2017 season with a new brand and coach
The men's soccer team had only a short preseason to get to know their new coach, Derek Potteiger, but now the players are ready to kickstart the fall season with new goals and fresh legs.
Potteiger officially filled the position of head coach early this year — a spot left open by Paul Fury, who resigned at the end of last season.
After three seasons of heading the Gordon College team in Massachusetts, Potteiger came to Lee with high hopes of reinstating the spirit of men’s soccer and rebranding the team’s vision.
“Can we be dangerous? Can we create chances?” Potteiger told Lee Clarion. “The more chances you create, the more opportunities you have to score — and we want to be the facilitators of that.”
Potteiger explained the team’s new brand is fast-paced, competitive and captivating.
So far, the team has been working on pressing both sides of the ball.
They have made high tempo games an expectation this season, striving to make each game better than the last.
Team captain Austin Waddell is back for a fifth season after being red-shirted last fall due to a knee surgery.
He and his teammates took very quickly to Potteiger’s vision and methods in coaching.
“[Last season] we played very patiently — we didn’t take risks going forward,” Waddell said. “We sat back and waited for the other team to make a mistake. ... With Potteiger we play very high tempo, very fast. We try to get the ball immediately when we lose it.”
With these faster-paced games and practices, new workouts are inevitable, and running is now a foundation on which the team is building their skills.
“We have to be the most physically fit team in the conference,” Waddell said.
Though Potteiger seemed to step in with no resistance, the team wasn’t used to the amount of running the new coach implemented into their workouts.
“They joked they were on the cross country team,” Potteiger said, noting the team needs to be extremely fit in order to pull off this new style of playing.
Each time they step off the pitch, the players want to be quicker and more efficient than when they stepped on.
With big names like Quade Marinell, Robbie Cutchin and David Perez gone, Potteiger is looking to underclassmen Danny Johnston, Jose Orellana, Samaan Williams, Samir Williams and Jeremy Bonyaa to step up and fill their shoes.
And, with a 3-2 win against Anderson already under their belt, the Flames have their eyes on the conference championship.
"It seemed like the spirit of the team fell off from what it used to be," said Waddell. "I think with Potteiger we're starting to get that back."