The NC State club men’s soccer team finished its regular season with a record of 3-2-1 and is hoping for a wild card spot in the Region 2 tournament.
“We should know by next weekend,” club co-president junior Logan Griffin said. “That's determined by people who run the Region 2 soccer, which is what we're in. There's eight divisions in Region 2, and they take 12 teams, so obviously, the eight winners of each division get to go and then they choose the next four highest-ranked teams.”
The team currently sits 12th in the region and did not win its divisions, so a wild card spot is the team's last hope to make it to regionals, a tournament it won just two years ago. Of the team that won the regional two years ago, a number of them are still on the roster, including senior midfielder Patrick Bailey.
“Back then we definitely had a very strong team and we kind of thought that was definitely something we could do,” Bailey said. “It's certainly tough playing that many games in one weekend having to win all of them. There's also a lot of stiff competition, but you'll get a similar feeling with the squad this year. We have a nice strong core to be able to go through and work through and we think we have a chance going forward to win regionals.”
Should the Pack make it to regionals, it should have a good shot at making a deep run as the club has a deep roster highlighted with plenty of solid players. The ability of the team is helped greatly by the tryouts held at the beginning of each semester which has helped bring the roster to nearly 40 people.
“We have a lot more people come out for fall tryouts than in the spring, because all the freshmen and it is new,” Griffin said. “We had about 85-90 people come up for tryouts this fall. And we definitely try to take like five-seven people every semester. And our roster’s gotten pretty big actually. We're around thing around 40 people now.”
One of the players who joined this fall is freshman forward Jared Miller who is one of the most exciting players on the team.
“He plays up top and he's definitely the fastest person on the team, he can just tear defenses apart,” Griffin said.
Joining Miller is a solid core of older players who help to lock it down in defense, including defenders such as Steven Sizemore and Tyler Conrad.
“We also have a junior center back named Steven,” Griffin said. “He's been on the team since his freshman year. He's kind of like our captain in the back. And we also have another senior center back named Tyler Conrad. He's huge and basically just a rock at the back."
Griffin, who takes on the coaching responsibilities, not only sets the lineup but also the style of play and formation.
“We're definitely a possession-based team, we like to pass the ball around,” Griffin said. “We're not much of a kick-and-run team. It is just tiring and a lot of us are not in the same shape we used to be before college so we try to minimize running. We usually play 4-3-3, but we're kind of transitioning to a 5-3-2, trying out some different formations based on personnel. But yeah, 4-3-3, I'd say is what we usually play.”
The Wolfpack’s wins this season have come in the form of a 5-1 win over Elon, a 3-1 win over UNCG and a forfeit win over Wake Forest. The losses have come at the hands of UNC-Chapel Hill and High Point, the second of which was a forfeit. The Pack’s lone tie came in its first game of the season at Duke.
“Obviously we're disappointed we had to forfeit a game,” Griffin said. “Even though we got a win for Wake Forest forfeiting, we definitely wanted to play them. This semester seemed to go by really fast. We play in the tournament in Virginia Tech every year, and we've won it for the past three years. But unfortunately, we lost this year in the quarterfinals. And right now we're just trying to figure out whether we're going to make it to regionals or not.”
The regional will be held between Oct. 25-27 in Richmond, Virginia and feature teams from all across the southeastern U.S. While the Pack will have another season in the spring, that season does not come with the opportunity to play in a regional so the focus of the team is on this regional.
“That’s the goal every year at the beginning of the season,” Griffin said. “That's really what we look forward to, just try to win regionals. Every year we should be about that level. So if we fall short of that, it's kind of disappointing.”