The Eastern men’s soccer team is out on the field and getting back to work. Head coach Ronnie Bouemboue and his team are preparing for spring competition while also navigating the challenges of a COVID-19-riddled semester.
Senior forward Shady Omar said with the pandemic going on, it felt amazing to be back on the field. Omar said lots of teammates just appreciate “a chance to just get away from the pandemic,” and get back to doing what they love.
“It’s for the love of the game,” Omar said. “We just want to get better.”
Amid all the excitement and joy to be back, the team is still taking safety precautions seriously. “We have to be role models for everyone else on campus,” Omar said.
The team is required to be screened for symptoms every day and must wear masks during practice. Omar did not seem to mind the precautions, though, and said that “it’s just a respect thing.”
With the pandemic presenting its own challenges, the team is also being led by a new coach in Bouemboue and acquired new, young talent that will need to undergo development. Bouemboue said he is implementing a more aggressive, yet organized style of play that the team will have to adapt to. Omar said this style of play should allow for more goals and put lots of pressure on other teams.
He also said he has lots of confidence in his new coach.
“He has an upbeat environment and a set plan for how to play,” Omar said.
He also said he was excited to see the work ethic of his fellow teammates and how everyone looked competitive and hungry. With this being Omar’s last season, he said he not only wants to have his best personal season yet, but also wants to see the Panthers win the Summit League and advance to the NCAA tournament. Omar scored the most goals last season for the Panthers and said he believes he can do even better this year with the new roster additions and the team’s new style of play.
COVID-19 has made it difficult for the Panthers to prepare in the off-season with much of the training being done virtually. However, they appear to be optimistic and are enjoying getting the chance to practice on the field again.
“Just happy to be back,” Omar said.
Nick Bays can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]