Men’s soccer captain reflects on role, team diversity

As the soccer schedule moves closer to the start of Heartland Conference play, senior Co-Captain Kyle Pujats is preparing for another successful soccer season with a diverse team behind him.

The centre-back is from the Dallas/Fort Worth area majoring Biology. Throughout his time at St. Edward’s University, the nationally-ranked men’s soccer team has won three consecutive conference titles.

Preparation for this season began about two weeks before the start of the season, as Pujats and fellow co-captain Karl de Zoeten hosted captains’ practices without their coaches being present, per NCAA regulations.

“As the captains, we run the training sessions… and work with all the guys, trying to get them into the system, and trying to work them into how we want to play early to just kind of build that relationship as early as possible in the summer,” Pujats said.

“We’ve always kind of started out slow the last couple of years, but I think this year, we’ve done a very good job of keeping a decent pace,” Pujats adds.

As captains, Pujats and de Zoeten act as a link between the coaching staff and the players to emphasize any details regarding the game plan for the week.

Although the season is young, there’s been several underclassmen who have made their debut and “really stepped up” due to a couple injuries and card penalties. Pujats also credits “the junior class with Nate Coons, Josh [Taylor], Jack [Blanton]. They stepped up as well, and kind of led the team in that regard.”

A big part of St. Edward’s athletics is having multiple international players.

“Each player and each country has a different skillset and a different way they think about the game. Our coaches do a good job of pulling out the strengths of each and every type of player,” Pujats adds.

“I think the best part about our team is that we all have a different way of thinking about the game. We kind of use those strengths to create a synergistic environment where each international culture builds on the other one.”

Individually on the field, Pujats was named the Heartland Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore, and has made First-team all-Heartland Conference each year that he has played with the Hilltoppers.

“Every game is different in terms of how we’re set up and how you play. The coaching staff does a good job of getting us ready for that,” Pujats adds. “Luckily this year we have a lot more home games, so that’s good for us.”

The men’s soccer team’s next four games are at home. On Friday, the team will play against a team they have never faced, Huston-Tillotson University at 4 p.m.

Another big home game to remember, according to Pujats, will take place on Sept. 25, as St. Edward’s will take on Midwestern State University in a Blue & Gold Series game at 4 p.m.

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