Soccer, Sports

Men’s soccer team takes on daily practices in pandemic

The Boston University men’s soccer team is staying positive amid restrictions as pandemic precautions impose unprecedented limits on sports this semester.

Over the summer, the Patriot League announced its fall sports season would be canceled. That action, combined with constraints caused by the ongoing public health crisis, has changed how the men’s soccer team practices.

The Boston University men’s soccer team during a game against Colgate University on Oct. 5. 2019. BU men’s soccer has adjusted to the COVID-19 pandemic by dividing players at daily practices into three groups and limiting contact between these players. CHRISTOPHER GOUGH/ DFP FILE

The team has been practicing in three “pods” of 10 players in each group, in accordance with public health guidelines. First-year head coach Kevin Nylen said his players and training staff have put much emphasis on practicing in a safe and healthy manner.

“We all have to be vigilant in terms of taking care of ourselves, and making smart decisions, and adhering to being socially distant and adhering to wearing your mask,” Nylen said. “We all have an individual responsibility for the greater good.”

In daily practices this semester, the three groups work on different parts of the field, limiting as much physical interaction between players as possible. 

“It’s forced us to think differently and to train, at times, differently,” Nylen said. “But it also has challenged us from a coaching standpoint, in a good way.”

These split practices and altered training methods bring a different dynamic to the team than a normal training session would, as players are only allowed to interact with those in their same group. 

Nylen said the restrictions have resulted in him and his staff changing up the drills and skills they work on. The team now focuses on how to train both tactically and physically in small groups. 

Along with players being unable to interact with many of their teammates on the field, some players have decided not to come to campus this semester for health reasons. Those on campus also cannot spend time with one another as they normally would. 

Rather than seeing this as a negative for team-bonding purposes, Nylen said he looks on the brighter side of the situation.

“They are now incorporating and embracing an environment of 10 guys where they’re getting to know those guys more,” Nylen said. “I look at it as, ‘How can it now be a positive?’”

Nylen also said that his squad is doing an “unbelievable” job following directions from the coaching staff. His team has been acting as equally satisfactory off the field as well, he said. 

“Our guys have been phenomenal,” Nylen said. “They’ve been absolutely fantastic in terms of how they’ve carried themselves and how they’ve acted in the professional manner in which they’ve done this entire semester.”

One of the aspects missing for the team, though, is game-time experience, which could come in the form of a potential spring season. Although nothing is concrete, Nylen said he remains hopeful games might come back this Spring, as the team hasn’t been able to play in any competitive matches since November of 2019. 

“If the Patriot League comes and says that we have a spring season, that everything is under protocol,” Nylen said, “then that would be unbelievable.”

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