The men’s soccer team cultivates tradition and refinement within the freshmen. So far, within this season, a couple of freshmen, as well as sophomores, started this season with heavy minutes. With the emphasis on working with the underclassmen, the hope of reaching their potential is high.
David Hoffman, the men’s soccer coach, shared, “As young as we are, there is potential to be better by the end of the season … and even greater potential over the next few years if we have good retention and build instead of rebuild.”
With the focus on refining themselves instead of fully breaking down and rebuilding, the Crusaders are set to continually strengthen their already defining skills, especially against the strong opponents within the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference.
“Several teams are perennially ranked.Over half the conference has qualified for the national tournament in the last four years,” Hoffman said. “So the hope is to scratch out the points to qualify, get better along the way, and give ourselves a chance in the tournament.”
With Hoffman’s goal to make way towards the playoffs, he is very focused on pushing our talented Crusaders forward. The Crusaders themselves share this ambition while trying to balance the student-athlete lifestyle. Clayton Porto, a freshman business major and #4, shared his transition from a high school level into a university level and the demands of it.
Porto said, “You had to put in a lot of minutes and a lot of work to get all your work done for every class. The lifestyle: you go to practice, you come back and do your homework, you eat, it’s a heavy lifestyle.”
However, not all athletes even experienced a student-athlete lifestyle in high school within the men’s soccer team. Victor Salvo, a freshman economics major and #19, welcomed this balance of student-athlete lifestyle from Madrid, Spain.
“I really didn’t get to experience the student-athlete in high school because I moved my senior year,” Salvo explained. “There, in Spain, we don’t do student-athlete. They’re just students and if you want to be an athlete, you join a club, so it’s new for me but I think it’s good.”
Despite how overwhelming this lifestyle may be, the freshmen are continually supported by their coach and upperclassmen teammates. The upperclassmen encourage their underclassmen by helping them through their classes and homework. Additionally, the coach himself is open to listen when the freshmen are really struggling.
This sense of community and bond is what serves as a cornerstone for the team. This cornerstone leaves an impact on a players’ lives even after university.
“The sport itself is a sanctuary for a lot of these guys. They build great friendships and support structures. My wife and I have attended 21 weddings of former players,” Hoffman shared. “The most recent one, the best man and three groomsmen and both ushers were UD teammates.”
Many players, such as Anthony Gonzales, a freshman undeclared major and #1, share this goal of cultivating and preserving this kind of friendship with their teammates and upperclassmen.
“Our real goal is to try and bring back traditions that were lost because of COVID. It kinda dismissed the things that we had going for the club and that’s what our coach is trying to bring back for us. You know the big brother-little brother. We’re all bringing back. We just want to make a real unity here at the team.”