The Mandan Braves soccer team has been to the state tournament for the last three seasons, now they’re hoping to take the program to the next level behind a strong sophomore class.
The Braves struggled through last year’s regular-season going 4-13-1. This year the team’s goal is to find ways to win early in the season as they build for the future.
“I’m definitely looking to change that and try to win more games in the regular season,” head coach Aaron McElwee said. “One, just for winning’s sake, but two, it builds confidence. You keep building confidence you’re going to get results.”
The Braves know as a young program with a new coach there will be ups and downs, but they are ready to buckle up for the ride to what they hope will be a fourth consecutive state tournament bid.
“Confidence is like a roller coaster,” McElwee said. “You lose your confidence is down. You win your confidence is up, so just trying to find a balance and see what we can do.”
The senior class knows a chance at history is in their sights, and a state tournament appearance is exactly what they hope to accomplish.
“I’m hoping to do the same thing again,” senior midfielder Austin Horn said. “Just slowly build our way back up and if we struggle, we might struggle through the year, but hopefully towards the end, we’ll be back to possibly state, hopefully at least.”
McElwee says in order to return to state the Braves will need its strong sophomore class to step up. Those are the players he began coaching at the middle school level. The familiarity between players and coach could carry the team a long way.
“I think we’re kind of used to him,” sophomore Camden Reimers said. “I think that will work its way and you’ll be able to see that on the field because we’ll be able to get used to it right away.”
“I think they know what to expect of me, and they know what to expect of this level, so we put that together hopefully we can come out and get some progress going for sure, but results as well,” McElwee said.
The Braves open their season against Williston on Tuesday.