Men's club soccer team keeps competitive edge

Most people don’t come to a football-centric university like The University of Alabama to play soccer. For the members of the UA club soccer team, being able to play a sport they love while being at the University is an added bonus.

According to the University Student Recreation Center website, the men’s soccer club is one of the oldest sport clubs at the University. The team has made multiple appearances in the regional and national. It holds tryouts each fall, where hundreds of interested students turn out to continue their soccer careers into their college years.

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Ethan Mergen, a sophomore majoring in management information systems, said he would describe club soccer as similar to playing Division I without the added stress and time commitment that a Division I athlete would face.

“The competitiveness is still there, and the high level is still there,” Mergen said. “It’s just a lot more laid back, like it doesn’t take over your life. It’s still fun.”

The club’s main season is in the fall, when it competes against other Southeastern teams and travels. In the past, the club has participated in a men’s league in Birmingham but has opted to not compete in the spring for the past few seasons. The team does, however, continue to practice in the spring to keep its game sharp and play the sport the players love.

This season, the team won all of its regular season games but was not invited to the regional tournament. The team played Auburn at home this year at the soccer stadium, where all its home games are played. James Boone, a senior majoring in management and pre-med, described the matchup as an Iron Bowl, club-team style.

“We tied Auburn, which was pretty big because Auburn is really good,” Mergen said. “It’s club soccer, but the rivalry is still there.”

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Boone said his favorite part about playing soccer at Alabama is most of his current teammates were once opponents he faced during his high school years. He said the majority of the team is from Alabama.

“There was a guy when I was younger, we almost got into a brawl my sophomore year of high school, and when we realized who each other was, it was awkward and hilarious. I broke his leg senior year,” Boone said. “He said, ‘Yeah some [guy] broke my leg,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, sorry.’ It was really funny. But we’re good friends. He got over it after four years.”

The club is always looking for new players to join the team. Both Boone and Mergen said they believe the University has infinite amounts of talent, and they hope becoming a Division I sport someday can help bring more talent to their team.

“There’s so many good soccer players on this campus that aren’t playing club just because they don’t want to play club,” Boone said.

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