By Clare Bruning
Lawrence University’s soccer programs use the spring as a time to train together and get on track for a successful season come fall. For the women’s team, fitness is a central foundation, as well as a strong team relationship.
“We are working on becoming a cohesive unit,” said sophomore Casey Merkle. “We have agreed that we can win games if we work together on the field.”
Junior Perrin Tourangeau also highlighted the emphasis on team chemistry, and additionally turned to the content of that teamwork on the field. “We’re focusing on defense and then, midfield and then, striking, for a week or two each,” she said, breaking the spring training routine into sections with different features to focus on. “Each training has a fitness component, either lifting or running, and a practice component.”
“Spring training is now amped up because we work with Coach D [Dustin Winnekens] on our strength and cardio,” explained Merkle. “We have been starting practice in the weight room, and then heading out to the field.”
Getting into more specifics, the Lady Vikes’ effort in the spring sets up players for summer training leading up to the season. “The main focus of spring training is to get touches on the ball,” said Tourangeau. “Summer is different in that a huge focus is on making sure you’re fit going into preseason. Our coach will give us each a work out plan at the end of spring training. We want to be already done with that stuff by the time we get to preseason.”
Taking team communication and offensive focus from spring training, and optimal fitness coming off the summer, the Lady Vikes have one simple objective in mind for next fall. “My goal is to be able to get the team to put 110 percent effort towards one goal—winning,” said Merkle. “We want to win games together.”
For the men’s soccer team, the focus of spring training is more of a preview of what fall training will be like than a precursor focused on conditioning. “We’re not working as much on fitness. That’s expected of us,” explained sophomore Chris Kiehl. “Our coach is trying to have spring practice seem like fall practices. It’s more soccer than fitness.”
Spring training is a time for the Vikings to learn drills, know the ins and outs of what will be expected of them during the regular season, and ensure that the work they do in the fall will run smoothly and make a difference when it counts. “The main thing we’ve been working on is moving off the ball and thinking a pass or two ahead,” said Kiehl. “We need to work on our first touch. We work on how to run, and time the runs and anticipate.”
Men’s spring soccer primes the team to move into the summer as well as to the fall when the entire team reconvenes in Appleton. “Not only are we trying to improve on the spring season, but it’s more of a trial run for the fall, so we know, tactically and technically, what we need to work on for the summer,” said Kiehl. “It’s a chance to practice drills and everything so we know how it all goes. We don’t waste time during preseason. We jump right into it.”
Both the men’s and women’s soccer teams will jump right into it in mid-August, when all the fall athletes return to campus for preseason. Until then, it’s up to the athletes to work hard in their respective spring practices and maintain their fitness, focus and fire throughout the summer.