In his first season as the Prairie Fire men’s soccer head coach, the number four is currently haunting Jeff Bernhardt and his players.
The team has played four games — all losses — scored four goals compared to 23 by its opponents, and has four players, senior Lawrence Povoas and sophomores Marcos Moreno, Oliver Horton and Peter Michener, sidelined due to injuries.
“Those are four huge players that we need going forward,” Bernhardt said. “It has been up and down. There have been two games where we just have not shown up and played, and I take full responsibility. It is my fault.”
This past Friday, September 11, the Prairie Fire hosted the Cardinals of North Central College and was defeated 6-2.
But, they showed up, played hard, and played with passion.
“It is the first game we played with full heart, I think,” said senior Jared Jaggers, who scored his first goal of the season at the six minute, nine second mark immediately after senior Jeff Wozencraft had a goal saved by North Central goalie Phillip Klipp. “The second half, they got a quick goal, and we let down. That has kind of happened with us. We see that goal, go in, and our heads go down. We got to work on that.”
The team also needs to work on playing entire games and staying composed, according to Wozencraft.
“We played well the first half (versus North Central), but we did not play 90 minutes,” he said. “The last couple of games we have not had the intensity we had during the first half. We need to keep our cool, stay composed.
“Losing is not the ultimate goal. We still want to win. We have to win games.”
Several freshmen are starting for the Prairie Fire, playing sound, and will help win games this season.
“I think we have four of five freshman starters and they are playing really well,” Jaggers said. “We just have to get them to talk more. They are a little timid. College ball is a little different than high school ball — a little bit harder.”
A new coach, new formation, 4-4-2, which was implemented before the game versus the Cardinals and the return of the injured players should help Knox put some wins in the win column.
“With the new coach there is a lot of hope. I think he is going to turn some heads,” Wozencraft said. “He is working us hard and we are going in the right direction right now. Conference comes up soon and hopefully we will all be healthy — 100 percent.”
Knox begins Midwest Conference play on Saturday, September 26 when they host the Monmouth College Fighting Scots, which is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. But they have a home game before they face the Fighting Scots.
This Sunday get to Jorge Prats Field and root for the Prairie Fire when they host the Highlanders of MacMurrary College. The game is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m.