Panthers making most of extra time

Adam Tumino, Editor-in-Chief

This fall has been a new experience for everyone on campus, and the Eastern men’s soccer team is no exception.

The program introduced a new head coach, Ronnie Bouemboue, in February. Just over a month later, the team had to cancel all spring activities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The time lost in the spring is now being made up during a fall in which no games are being played. Bouemboue said he thinks the team can benefit from their experiences this semester.

“It’s been good to have the guys back,” he said. “I know it’s been a long, long spring. There was a long summer break for the guys, but to actually have everybody back and just the opportunity to be able to play and continue to train on a daily basis has been massive.”

He said he was pleased with how the players handled their time off and the uncertainty surrounding their return to the field.

“The guys have been spectacular. One of the things I asked them throughout the summer was to be very flexible and patient as we continue to kind of go through all of these changes and find the best way really to continue to be efficient and put in the work that we need to put in,” Bouemboue said.

With the spring activity being somewhat shifted to the fall, Bouemboue said being able to work with the team in the fall has been very beneficial for him as a first-time head coach.

“Obviously our season got flipped around this year due to the whole COVID situation, but I think what’s been massive and very important for me as a first-time head coach is just the opportunity to get the extra time on the front end to be able to work with the guys,” he said. “We have 15 returners who have been massive in taking in the 10 new guys that came in, and just really took them under their wings and made them feel comfortable and feel at home.”

Another major benefit Bouemboue said the team can take from this fall is the chance to build chemistry and fundamentals.

“Getting the chemistry of the group as quickly as we could was massive, and obviously not having the time to work with the group in the spring and really taking the six weeks and the time that we have coming to really put in some of the more principle things we want to do on the field, but a lot of it is going to have to do with the culture and how we want to move the program and how we want the program to be represented on a daily basis.”

Bouemboue also said he liked how quickly the new players seemed to fit in with the returners so it does not feel like the newcomers and returners are separate groups.

“A lot of times when you bring a new group every year, for a coach it’s ‘how quickly can we mesh? How quickly can we get away from the new guys conversation against the old guys?’ And again, I think the new guys coming in have felt at ease. They’ve felt at home form day one, and that’s credit obviously to the returners,” he said.

 

Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]