The other men's soccer team on The Bluff

By Molly McSweyn | October 3, 2016 6:09pm
by Jeffrey Braccia / The Beacon

The team steps out onto the turf field that hides behind Merlo. They wear mismatched t-shirts, throw their textbooks down next to their gear bags and begin warming up with music bumping from a small red speaker. Soccer balls begin to fly across the field as drills start up. Laughter rises above the sound of cleats landing hard onto the turf as the players begin their weekly practice.

They are the other men’s soccer team on The Bluff, the University of Portland Football Club team.

The players don't have fancy jerseys and are not decked out in Nike gear. They don’t have a weight room, ice baths or even a coach.

Still, the club team has high expectations for this year.

“Things are going to be different this year, and different for the better,” junior captain Josh Kachmarik said. “We wanted club soccer to be more legit and be a more prestigious club on campus, rather than what is has been in the past.”

The UPFC team practices every Wednesday night from 9 to 11 p.m. on the turf field next to Merlo. They go through drills, workouts and scrimmages underneath blaring fluorescent lights as the early night fades into pitch black. Between all of their classes and jobs, it is difficult to find a time to practice that works for everyone.

The team had 50 sign ups, including 18 returners at this year’s activities fair. However, they had to go through tryouts and make cuts to narrow down the numbers to a size that was manageable and competitive.

Although the team plays for fun, the players are serious on the pitch. Each player is skilled and has, at the very least, played at a high level in high school. Kachmarik was offered a full ride to play for UCCS in Colorado and junior Riley Sakamoto was recruited by Pacific University but he decided to come to UP because of the school’s academics.

“Before I came to UP there were Division 1 dropouts playing on the club team and players who wanted to walk on or maybe tried to walk on the UP team and maybe they didn't,” Kachmarik said. “So that's why we want to keep it competitive because we have players who obviously wanted to play at the next level but maybe they couldn't or they decided not to because they wanted to pursue other things in college but they still wanted to keep their passion for soccer.”

This mix of skilled players creates an environment of high intensity competition. The team wants to have fun and form a brotherhood but they are also serious about their goals. They train to be the best team in their league.

“We look for guys that are also going to be good teammates and that can mesh well with the players that we have because we want to win games and be competitive and just play competitive soccer,” Kachmarik said. “But when it comes down to it we are in college and want to have a good time and have good experiences and make fun memories.”

The spirit of competitiveness and a desire to have fun showed as the team took to the pitch last Saturday for a preseason game with Reed College. UPFC beat Reed 11-1.

UPFC is in the Cascade Collegiate Soccer League. The local league includes five other teams, including Oregon State and the University of Oregon. Each team plays 10 games, two against each team: one on their own pitch and one on the other team’s field.

The teams earn points, three for a win, one for a tie and zero for a loss. At the end of the season, the team with the most points wins the league.

And this year, UPFC is hoping to win the league.

"I can already tell from our first practice that the atmosphere was totally different,” Sakamoto said. “180 from last year. Everyone is hungry, we want to be the big team. We want to beat U of O, OSU. We want to beat everyone in our path."

The team hopes to come out and do as well as they can this season. Although they lost their first two league games, they want to push forward and continue to find their competitive edge as they have fun playing the sport that they love.