Starting the season 5-0-1 is more than satisfying for head coach Rick Isaacson and the Storm men’s soccer team.
Especially considering Simpson was tabbed to finish in sixth in the IIAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
Nonetheless, Isaacson, who is entering his third year as head coach, said he felt the team was surprised by the results from the poll, mostly because the last two seasons the Storm finished in the top four spots in the conference standings.
Last year, Simpson recorded a fourth-place tie with Wartburg College. The Storm defeated the Knights in the first round of the Iowa Conference Tournament In 2011, which was Isaacson’s first year at Simpson, the Storm were predicted to finish last in the conference, but finished with a third-place tie alongside the University of Dubuque.
“They had exceeded the expectations that the conference coaches in the preseason poll had set for them,” Isaacson said at the start of the season. “It should serve as a motivator. If it bothers them to be ranked sixth then they’ve got to go out and need to make progress and continue to put themselves in the top half of the conference.”
Isaacson added that he thinks the Storm will approach its conference matches with a little bit of a chip on their shoulders.
Without a doubt, the IIAC is full of very talented teams. Loras College, who are ranked No. 5 nationally by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the clear favorite to win conference this year according to the poll, receiving seven first-place votes. Luther received one first-place vote and is predicted to finish in second, but teams three through six (Dubuque, Central, Wartburg and Simpson) are separated between one to three points in the standings.
“That’s a testament to the depth and strength of this conference as a whole,” Isaacson said. “Every time you play a conference opponent, you better be ready to go. That’s what this poll should have shown everybody.”
So far this season, Simpson has played in six games and has scored 10 goals on the pitch. Sophomore forward and 2012 second team all-conference selection Tyler Neumann owns two of the six goals. Junior forward Mitchell White owns three, junior defenseman Kyle Kusy has two and sophomore midfield/forward Cody Jacobson, freshman midfield/forward Collin Hemann and sophomore forward Marcus Varnum all have one apiece.
Isaacson views White as one of the guys to really step up for the Storm.
“Mitchell scored 20 goals in his first two years in our program and he is on pace to actually break the career goals record if he can sustain this pace,” Isaacson said.
Isaacson also noted Varnum to carry much leadership as well, and is arguably considered as one of the top players in the conference. The midfielder recorded seven goals and four assists last season, earning honorable mention all-conference honors.
Simpson returns nine of 11 starters.
“In terms of the production that we bring back, we’re bringing back a lot of guys that had a statistical impact on our team,” Isaacson said. “We have a young nucleus, but also an experienced team.”
Simpson welcomes AIB to Buxton Stadium Sept. 25. All the action on the pitch will begin at 7 p.m.