The Blue Mountain College Athletic Program introduced to the 2021-2022 school year a new sport for the students to add to their watch list. The men’s soccer team at Blue Mountain College is a first-year program which included adding two new coaches, twenty-eight new young men, and a whole different culture.
Will Lowery, the athletic director, has worked hard at getting the ball rolling with the men’s soccer team. The student athletes were provided with a new sportsplex, locker rooms, dugouts, and places to stay. The men moved onto campus about two weeks before the other students did and began to work hard on their upcoming season. Considering this is a first-year program, the men also had to get to know one another and build relationships as a good bit of them are international students.
This dilemma also falls on Coach Vogel as he is having to recruit and watch game film to get to know how his players approach on the field. Coach Vogel was previously the head soccer coach at New Albany High School before he was offered the opportunity to be the first men’s soccer coach in history at Blue Mountain College. When Coach Vogel was asked what the biggest difference was between college and high school level athletics, he answered, “The largest difference in the transition was the addition of recruiting. At college level, we are able to recruit student-athletes across the state, country, and world.”
Coach Vogel and his men began their season early on throughout the school year. Their first scrimmage began on August 19th and their first regular season game followed on September 4th. They started off shaky, but soon picked up two back to back wins against Lincoln Christian University and The University of Health and Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis. The Toppers worked hard this season to achieve the overall victory as they were working out the kinks to the new program. Their overall record sadly came up short this season ending in 7-9 and 2-5 in the conference. The men seemed to have a better record on the road then when they played on their home turf.
In mid-October, Francisco Ruiz-Zuniga was named SSAC Conference Defensive Player of the Week. He achieved this title when he and his team battled against their in-state opponent, Mississippi University for Women, where Francisco pitched a first half shut out game for his team that resulted in a Blue Mountain Victory. The Men’s Soccer team here at BMC did not come out with a winning season this year, but they did achieve goals as they played from game to game. The boys grew as a team and as individual athletes and the coaches and athletes are looking forward to next year’s season.